Possible resignation of Zac Goldsmith as Richmond MP over Heathrow threatens May’s slender majority

Theresa May’s slender Commons majority risks being cut even further if she backs a third runway at Heathrow, because Zac Goldsmith may resign the Tory whip and fight a by-election as an independent in his Richmond Park seat.  Zac has said in the past that he might resign if the government favoured a Heathrow runway, as the airport has highly negative noise impacts on his constituency. Zac has a majority of more than 23,000, but he voted for Leave in the EU Referendum. His popularity could be reduced by a Brexit backlash or if the Tory vote splits. While Zac’s views on Heathrow expansion are in tune with many voters in his seat, almost 70% of people who voted in Richmond upon Thames on June 23 backed Remain. The Lib-Dems  – who held the seat before Zac – said they would put Brexit at the centre of any by-election contest in the constituency. Brexit and Heathrow are two of the most important issues in Richmond.  Mr Goldsmith is understood not to have made up his mind yet whether to stand as the Tory contender, an independent or quit Parliament. Mrs May has a Commons majority of twelve.
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Zac Goldsmith’s vow over Heathrow threatens May’s slender majority

By NICHOLAS CECIL AND JOE MURPHY  (Evening Standard)

12.9.2016

Theresa May’s slender Commons majority risks being cut even further if she backs a third runway at Heathrow, it emerged today.

Allies of Zac Goldsmith believe he may resign the Tory whip and fight a by-election as an independent in his Richmond Park seat.

Today, the Lib-Dems said they would put Brexit at the centre of any by-election contest in the constituency, which overwhelmingly backed Remain.

Mr Goldsmith, 41, will quit if the Government, as expected, gives the green light to a bigger Heathrow within weeks.

His majority of more than 23,000 could be put in peril by a Brexit backlash or if the Tory vote splits. While the Eurosceptic is in tune with many voters in his seat in his opposition to a third runway, almost 70 per cent of people who voted in Richmond upon Thames on June 23 backed Remain.

A senior Lib-Dem source said: “Two of the biggest issues in Richmond are Brexit and Heathrow. On both issues this Brexit Conservative government is on the wrong side of local opinion.”

Mr Goldsmith is understood not to have made up his mind yet whether to stand as the Tory contender, an independent or quit Parliament. Mrs May has a Commons majority of 12.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/zac-goldsmith-s-vow-over-heathrow-threatens-may-s-slender-majority-a3342681.html

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See earlier:

Tory candidate for London Mayor Zac Goldsmith will vote to leave EU

21 February 2016
BBC

Zac Goldsmith is standing as Tory candidate for London mayor after Boris Johnson steps down.  The Conservative candidate for London Mayor, Zac Goldsmith, will vote to leave the European Union, his team has confirmed.

Mr Goldsmith’s opposition candidates, Labour’s Sadiq Khan and the Lib Dems’ Caroline Pidgeon, have both said they will campaign to stay in the EU.

Current London Mayor Boris Johnson has also said he will campaign to leave.

London Labour has responded to Zac Goldsmith by tweeting: “No serious candidate for Mayor of London would put the prosperity of our city at risk by voting to leave the EU”.
Mr Goldsmith, the MP for Richmond Park and north Kingston, has yet to release a statement as to why he has taken this decision.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35625097

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Zac Goldsmith says Heathrow expansion would split the Cabinet with opposition from the very top

Zac Goldsmith was re-elected to his Richmond Park seat with a majority of about 23,000 – up from a 4,000 majority in 2010. He has always been very firmly against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Zac believes that if Heathrow is “chosen” for approval by the Airports Commission, it would cause a split at the very top of government, and a real problem for David Cameron: “If you look at the cabinet today, there are at least 3 heavyweight people there, Philip Hammond, Justine Greening and Boris Johnson and others, in fact, who are implacably opposed to Heathrow expansion … He’d face a split at the highest level and I don’t think a fragile government with a small majority wants to do that.”  Zac also says giving the go-ahead to Heathrow would be “an off-the-scale betrayal” from David Cameron, who came to west London before the 2010 election and promised locals, “No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway” – and that there wouldn’t be a new runway under the Conservatives. Zac has repeated his threat of resigning if the government backs a Heathrow runway. His resignation would trigger a by-election in which he could stand as an independent on that one issue. It would offer him the opportunity to get a lot of publicity for the anti- runway case.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/05/zac-goldsmith-says-heathrow-expansion-would-split-the-cabinet-with-opposition-from-the-very-top/

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and

Zac Goldsmith: Heathrow as a hub is not the answer – better competition between London airports is

Zac Goldsmith is unarguably an important part of whatever decision the government makes on whether to build a runway. Writing in the Standard on 14th December, Zac said “London’s prosperity depends on it being connected to the world — particularly those emerging markets where new business and jobs will come from. That is not best achieved by creating a monopoly on one edge of our city. We need competition and choice….The irony is that even if Heathrow is expanded, it will not provide the additional capacity we need. Figures produced by the Airports Commission itself show that new activity at an expanded Heathrow would be at the expense of competing airports .. [it] would suck in flights from across the South-East and undermine competition not only at Gatwick and Stansted but as far afield as Manchester and Birmingham too.” And ” hubs will likely soon cease to exist. The new generation of aircraft can travel point to point for longer, and at a fraction of the cost” so a massive airport like a 3 runway Heathrow will not be needed. “The priority is competition and, if and when there is need for additional capacity, for that reason it would need to be at either Stansted or Gatwick, whichever can offer the best value for money without compromising carbon, noise and air-quality limits.”

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/12/zac-goldsmith-heathrow-as-a-hub-is-not-the-answer-better-competition-between-london-airports-is/

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