Pro-Europe party wins Parliamentary By-Election in London


Where is the evidence to prove his claim?


The Lib Dems conducted internal polling and canvassing prior to the vote which predicted they would make a surprise victory.

I assume this claim must have arisen from number crunching of that data.


If in area after area that voted in the majority for leaving the EU, pro-EU/pro-Remain MPs win, then in my opinion that may be a sign of a shift, but I don’t see that from this one Richmond by-election, where one pro-EU candidate won in an area which went 70% for Remain.


A newcomer to politics overcoming the 23,000 + majority of a seasoned political heavyweight with wide popularity in his constituency simply because he is a Brexiteer is nothing to sniff at.

Also, you may not be aware but this is no isolated incident - it is the culmination of a trend.

In the recent Witney by-election, the Lib Dems slashed the Tory majority. In local council elections all across the country, they have been making blitzkrieg-like gains campaigning on an unashamedly pro-EU ticket:

**The Lib Dems have been doing strikingly well in those prosperous but relatively liberal parts of the country that voted Conservative at the last election but for Remain in the Brexit referendum. First came a series of triumphs in council by-elections in such places, then a strong showing at the election to replace David Cameron as MP for Witney. Richmond Park, a posh, metropolitan place where 75% of voters were for staying in the EU, could hardly be a better test of the trend. Indeed, the line on our chart plotting the change in the Lib Dem vote share against support for Remain in Tory areas predicted yesterday’s result to within a couple of points of accuracy.

All of which will give some Conservative MPs the jitters. It was a surge of wins in Lib Dem seats that gave the party its majority last year. That vote is soft: in many of these places voters switched at the last minute, spooked by Tory warnings about the influence Scottish nationalists would have on a Labour government. Especially in those that voted Remain—think Bath, Cheltenham, Kingston & Surbiton, Twickenham—the Lib Dems look newly threatening…

But the loser was Labour. The party took 3.7% of votes, down from 12.3% last year, and lost its deposit. It obtained fewer votes (1,515) than it has members in the seat (it claims over 1,600). That may reflect tactical voting: left-wing voters lending support to Ms Olney. But it also speaks to Labour’s lacklustre voice on Europe (notwithstanding the wise appointment of Sir Keir Starmer as its Brexit spokesman) and general funk.

And it speaks to a wider structural evolution. Three or four years ago, with UKIP on the rise and the Lib Dems in power with the Tories, the talk was of the fragmentation of the right of British politics. That period seems to have passed. The 2015 election saw the Conservatives consume the Lib Dems’ centrist flank. The Brexit vote and Theresa May’s nationalist tilt has attracted back some Tory defectors to UKIP (hence her party now routinely exceeds 40% in polls).**…

And see:

**Labour MPs are ‘terrified of the Lib Dems’ in London, says senior party source

Labour sources say the Liberal Democrats are threatening their party like a ‘London Ukip’

Senior Labour figures fear the possibility of electoral wipeout at the hands of the Lib Dems in London, after the party lost its deposit in the Richmond Park by-election.

With Labour committed to delivering on Brexit, in part to appease the threat of Ukip in its pro-Brexit northern heartlands, a London Labour source told The Independent that several of the party’s MPs are now “terrified of the Lib Dems”, who have said they will contest any general election and by-election on a pro-EU basis.**


I’ve always voted Tory, but I’m not for hard Brexit’: Voters describe why they abandoned Goldsmith in Richmond

‘I voted for the Liberal Democrat basically because of Brexit’

Richmond voters have described why they overturned a 23,000 majority previously held by ex-Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith to elect Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney in Thursday’s by-election.

Mr Goldsmith had triggered a by-election in protest at the Conservative Party’s backing of a third runway at Heathrow, a decision he said he had fought on behalf of constituents whose lives if would impact.

The 41-year-old ran and lost as an independent, with many voters attributing the ‘hard Brexit’ direction the Conservative government is taking as the reason they abandoned the former MP, in what is a heavily pro-Remain constituency.

“I voted for the Liberal Democrat basically because of Brexit,” said Roger Weizer, 73. “I don’t want a hard Brexit, I think it would be disastrous for the country.”

“I’ve always voted for Conservative, but I voted for Liberal Democrats,” said Paula Pearce, 35.

“I think a lot of people have changed their minds since the referendum, so I’m not for hard Brexit and I hope she [Theresa May] doesn’t go for that.”


Forgive my lack of understanding of British politics, but how is this the case when the Conservatives now have 328 seats, compared to Labour’s 231 and the Liberal democrats 9?

Like others said, I don’t see how a Liberal Democrat winning in an area that historically votes Liberal democrat and voted heavily remain means anything on a broader scale.

And hasn’t Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Labour, repeatedly said that his party will respect the vote of the British people, and not attempt to block the Brexit? And weren’t Conservatives just recently asking May to hold a snap election, because polls showed her majority would increase dramatically?


Because their 328 seats gives the Tories a small working majority of 13 according to our electoral system, which they won on the basis of victories in marginal seats taken from the Lib Dems in 2015. If Richmond, Witney and the council elections were repeated across the country, the Lib Dems would win back a hefty number of those 27 seats won by the Conservatives last year.

Equally, they look well placed to eat into the pro-EU Labour vote in London and other metropolitan centres.

Likewise, UKIP will eat into the Tories on the Eurosceptic side by claiming that they are not handling Brexit thoroughly as they should be, while they will also eat into the Eurosceptic working class Labour areas in the North.

And so both main parties will find themselves caught in a pincer movement on both flanks of the spectrum.

Like others said, I don’t see how a Liberal Democrat winning in an area that historically votes Liberal democrat and voted heavily remain means anything on a broader scale.

And hasn’t Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Labour, repeatedly said that his party will respect the vote of the British people, and not attempt to block the Brexit? And weren’t Conservatives just recently asking May to hold a snap election, because polls showed her majority would increase dramatically?

Not now.

She could lose at least fifteen seats to the Libs, while Labour is yet to implode.


The Liberal Democrats’ victory in Richmond Park has Conservatives nervous, and rightly so. Not only did Sarah Olney take the votes of soft Conservatives who backed a Remain vote on 23 June, she also benefited from tactical voting from Labour voters.

Although Richmond Park is the fifth most pro-Remain constituency won by a Conservative at the 2015 election, the more significant number – for the Liberal Democrats at least – is 15: that’s the number of Tory-held seats they could win if they reduced the Labour vote by the same amount they managed in Richmond Park.

The Tories have two Brexit headaches, electorally speaking. The first is the direct loss of voters who backed David Cameron in 2015 and a Remain vote in 2016 to the Liberal Democrats. The second is that Brexit appears to have made Liberal Democrat candidates palatable to Labour voters who backed the party as the anti-Conservative option in seats where Labour is generally weak from 1992 to 2010, but stayed at home or voted Labour in 2015.

Although local council by-elections are not as dramatic as parliamentary ones, they offer clues as to how national elections may play out, and it’s worth noting that Richmond Park wasn’t the only place where the Liberal Democrats saw a dramatic surge in the party’s fortunes. They also made a dramatic gain in Chichester, which voted to leave…

That the referendum allowed the Liberal Democrats to reconfigure the politics of Richmond Park adds credence to a YouGov poll that showed a pro-Brexit Labour party finishing third behind a pro-second referendum Liberal Democrat party, should Labour go into the next election backing Brexit and the Liberal Democrats opt to oppose it.

The difficulty for Labour is the calculation for the Liberal Democrats is easy. They are an unabashedly pro-European party, from their activists to their MPs, and the 22 per cent of voters who back a referendum re-run are a significantly larger group than the eight per cent of the vote that Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats got in 2015.


The devil is in the details, as they say.


A lot has changed since Zac Goldsmith was last reelected.

With this win the Liberal Democrats have a total of 9 MPs:–


New Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney dragged off air by PR after grilling by Julia


Indeed, they lost big at the last election.

But their recent gains are proving that not only have their core of traditional voters forgiven them but that Pro-EU Tories and Labourites are now willing to back them.

In the long term (not short term), it looks like the Libs will reap considerable dividends from their avowedly Pro-EU stance.

UKIP, if it gets its act together, could yet again do the same on the Eurosceptic side.

You see, the Libs and UKIP are the only parties that are absolutely clear-cut and united on their views on Brexit.

That should work well for them in the long-run.

Consider the assessment of the polling expert Prof. John Curtice:

**Lib Dems are back in the game after Richmond Park, says psephologist

Elections expert Prof John Curtice says party is poised to make general election gains after byelection win

The Liberal Democrats’ victory in the Richmond Park byelection could place the party back on the road to significant gains in the House of Commons, according to one of the country’s leading psephologists.

Prof John Curtice said Sarah Olney’s defeat of Zac Goldsmith was not simply an indirect loss for the Conservative party but also ought to worry Labour, which he described as a “fragile creature” that had taken another blow.

He suggested the outcome showed voters were “beginning to forgive the coalition” and warned that Labour, while right to be worried by the Ukip threat, must also appeal to the much larger socially liberal spectrum of potential voters. He said Jeremy Corbyn’s party had more socially liberal supporters than socially conservative ones.

“This gives the Liberal Democrats the opportunity to get back into the general election game,” the academic at Strathclyde University told the Guardian.


Julia Hartley-Brewer is a very formidable and avowed Brexiteer. I’ve seen her give others a hard time in the past.

Olney is not a career politician. Much like Trump (albeit from the opposite political stance), she has no history in politics. Until last year, she was an accountant and only joined the Lib Dems after the 2015 election because she was dismayed by the direction the country was heading.

Voters in Richmond connected with her precisely due to the fact that she has ordinary life experience and is not a policy wonk.

As such, she will have to learn quickly on the job.


I know she is, but it is kind of interesting to hear Julia Hartley-Brewer throw some of the similar type of arguments that Remainers have made, that there should be a second referendum, etc. against Sarah Orney in comparison to her victory in Richmond, to see what her response would be.


Actually, being the EU would be economically dire with certainty. Brexit gives the UK its own independence to with as it sees fit, meaning they could screw it all up, but they’d have to try to be as bad as the EU.

Also, the wins in London aren’t good news for the left or really even news for that matter. Labour, the standard-bearer for post-modern liberalism and neocon views, lost again.

As far as Brexit goes, most of London opposed it. So again, not news.


If by parties you mean party elites, then yes.

Otherwise the people across the political spectrum have spoken on Brexit, and the excuse-making opponents are trying to undermine it.


So 48% of voters are “party elites”? 62% of Scottish voters are “party elites”? 22% of voters who want a second referendum on the terms of Brexit are “party elites”? The voters of Richmond are “party elites”? Sarah Olney is a “party elite”? :confused:


At this point, it’s amusing that Remain thinks they’ve won. All Brexiteers have done is extend an olive branch only to get called racist bigots in the process.

Also, it’s sad that 22% of voters don’t believe in democracy in the UK. I’d say they are free to leave for the mainland anytime, especially since they evidently think the UK is now doomed economically.


No one said this.

All Brexiteers have done is extend an olive branch only to get called racist bigots in the process.

What ‘olive branch’ exactly is this? The Brexiteers have not considered the 48% for even a nanosecond. The reason for this by-election upset, is that people are tired of our politicians acting like half the voting population of the country doesn’t exist and doesn’t need representation. The Lib Dems have found a very big niche in this “market” and are justifiably exploiting it. They should do well out of it in the years to come.

The Brexiteers are pushing for a hard Brexit without any compromises to Remainers. On the contrary, had Remain won the referendum, Cameron had already promised compromises such as opt-outs from “ever closer union” and brakes on in-work benefits for EU immigrants.

“Hard” Brexiteers seem to want to have it all their own way and hold a gun to the rest of the population, both Remainers and those who didn’t cast a vote.

Also, it’s sad that 22% of voters don’t believe in democracy in the UK. I’d say they are free to leave for the mainland anytime, especially since they evidently think the UK is now doomed economically.

Democracy is representative in the Western world. We do not live in elective dictatorships.

If a party loses a general election it goes into opposition and tries to make it’s case in preparation for a future re-run, by representing the views of the losing side.

Major constitutional change like Brexit where people are going to lose their rights and identities as European citizens (potencially) should not, in my opinion, ideally be dictated on the basis of a slender majority. It should require support from the public above 60%.

That said, Britain is set to leave the EU but if the British public does not like the terms we are given or at a later date regards our secession as a mistake, I see no reason why we cannot decide to either “remain” or “'re-join”.

It’s up to voters. Remainers will keep making the case for - in the short-term - a “soft Brexit” with full single market membership that respects the narrow Leave mandate and perhaps in the longer term “remain” by rejecting the terms of Brexit in two years + time if they are deemed to be bad for us or “'re-join” if a post-Brexit Britain turns out to be bad for us.

And it is as much our democratic right to do so as it for Brexiteers to advocate for Leaving on the basis of the referendum.

It took 40 years for Eurosceptics to reverse the outcome of the original EC referendum of 1975, which saw Britain vote to Remain in the European Community (EU) with 67% in favour.

Remainers are the “insurgents” now, not the Brexiteers. Young voters under 30 voted by an overwhelming margin of 75% to Remain in the EU. That is where the future lies, demographically speaking IMHO.


Tomorrow’s leading article in the Times on the Labour Party’s response to this and the new Brexit divide in UK politics:

**Labour has few safe seats left, MPs warn

Party support crushed by Ukip and Lib Dems

Labour faces being crushed between Ukip and a resurgent Liberal Democrat Party in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, senior allies of Jeremy Corbyn admitted last night.

The party suffered humiliation in the Richmond Park by-election yesterday, losing its deposit in a London by-election for the first time since 1909.**

The victorious Lib Dems, who overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,015 majority after running a strongly pro-European campaign, vowed to supplant Labour as the main opposition to a hard Brexit…

Chuka Umunna, the former leadership hopeful, warned that there were now “no safe Labour seats”.

Even those close to Mr Corbyn said that Brexit “has unleashed a dynamic that none of us quite understood” — with voters increasingly ditching old party loyalties and instead defining themselves as pro-EU or anti-EU.

A senior Corbyn ally said: “We do have two different strong pulls. There are metropolitan seats, in London, Manchester and Leeds; they are strongly pro-EU. Then equally, there are dozens and dozens of seats which are working class, where many did not vote to remain. There’s no doubt it’s difficult to balance the two.”

Labour’s dismal showing in Richmond, where it polled just 1,515 votes — fewer than the local party has members — led Clive Lewis, the shadow business secretary, to call for it to consider electoral pacts with other parties…

An analysis by the British Election Study in October revealed that people identified more strongly with how they voted in the EU referendum than a political party. The researcher warned that “this new cleavage could yet disrupt British politics”. “The EU referendum revealed a more fundamental divide,” Chris Prosser, of Manchester University, said.


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