Labour is set to contest the by-election triggered by Zac Goldsmith’s resignation despite calls from senior MPs to stand aside.
The party expects to field a candidate against Goldsmith, who quit in protest at the expansion of Heathrow, and will refuse to allow Lib Dem PPC Sarah Olney a clear run at the seat.
It comes after Clive Lewis, Lisa Nandy and Jonathan Reynolds used a LabourList article to argue for the party to consider skipping Goldsmith’s by-election to increase the chances of unseating him in the “vanity project” vote.
Yesterday shadow Cabinet minister John Healey confirmed Labour would fight again in Richmond Park, where it came a distant third in the general election.
“Labour will stand. To be honest, I can’t see a by-election simply being a referendum on Heathrow, however Zac Goldsmith wants to argue it,” the shadow Housing Secretary told the Daily Politics.
Goldsmith will stand as an independent and the Tories will not put up a candidate against him.
Yesterday several Labour MPs urged the party to consider standing aside to increase the chances of unseating Goldsmith, who fought a bitter and racially-charged campaign for the London mayoralty earlier this year.
“If there is any chance of kicking Goldsmith out of Parliament, the vote against him must not be split. That’s why we think Labour should consider not standing a candidate in this by-election,” wrote Lewis, the shadow Business Secretary, Reynolds, the shadow City minister, and Nandy, who has returned to the backbenches.
“Not only did Goldsmith bring a new low to mainstream politics with his campaign against Sadiq Khan, but he is a hard Brexiteer willing to throw hard won environmental and workplace protections down the drain despite all his talk of being green.”