The Week In Westminster – another election, another upset

This has been another week dominated by Brexit. Despite Zac Goldsmith’s greatest efforts, the Richmond by-election became a vote about Brexit rather than Heathrow expansion. He wouldn’t have been helped by notes from Mark Field’s aide, purportedly revealing a hard ‘have your cake and eat it’ Brexit strategy. Elsewhere Paul Nuttall became the latest leader of UKIP and is urging for a doubling down of hard and fast withdrawal from the EU.

This morning we woke up to yet another 2016 shock election result with Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney winning the Richmond Park by-election and overturning Zac Goldsmith’s majority of over 23,000. The Liberal Democrats are already lauding the result as a victory for Remain but the significance of this on the direction of Brexit will be seen in a renewed confidence in Remainers rather than in any immediate change.

Even though Zac Goldsmith wasn’t officially a Conservative candidate, the result is certainly a blow to the Conservative Party. A spokesperson from the Party attempted to quash the backlash and dismiss the impact, said that the result “doesn’t change anything”, and, given the rhetoric following the referendum, it won’t be hard to position it as another example of ‘out of touch London elitism.’ Nevertheless, the result will be felt. This morning Grant Shapps tweeted that it was wrong for the Party not to be on the ballot and, with the Remain camp bolstered, a cohesive and unified strategy will be more important than ever, especially following the week’s earlier blunder with Mark Field’s aide’s photographed notes.

The Liberal Democrats will certainly be reinvigorated by the result. Campaigns for the 2017 and 2018 local elections have already begun but a sense confidence and faith restored, which started at Witney by-election, will be high and the Party will be emboldened.  Although still a small parliamentary force, with a new total of nine MPs, the Liberal Democrats will be looking to the local elections to increase their representation at a local level and increase their presence before the next general election, whenever it may be. Conservatives that took Liberal Democrat seats at the last election may be feeling a little less comfortable this morning.

While most of the focus this morning has been on the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party has been left trailing woefully behind, with Labour candidate Christian Wolmar failing to secure enough votes to get his deposit back. With UKIP mounting a considerable campaign in the Sleaford and North Hykeham, hoping to push Labour into third place, the Party’s position, and even relevance, in the Brexit debate and the political climate is looking increasingly uncertain. All eyes will now look to 8th December to see what 2016 has left in store.

This has been another week dominated by Brexit. Despite Zac Goldsmith’s greatest efforts, the Richmond by-election became a vote about Brexit rather than Heathrow expansion. He wouldn’t have been helped by notes from Mark Field’s aide, purportedly revealing a hard ‘have your cake and eat it’ Brexit strategy. Elsewhere Paul Nuttall became the latest leader of UKIP and is urging for a doubling down of hard and fast withdrawal from the EU.

This morning we woke up to yet another 2016 shock election result with Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney winning the Richmond Park by-election and overturning Zac Goldsmith’s majority of over 23,000. The Liberal Democrats are already lauding the result as a victory for Remain but the significance of this on the direction of Brexit will be seen in a renewed confidence in Remainers rather than in any immediate change.

Even though Zac Goldsmith wasn’t officially a Conservative candidate, the result is certainly a blow to the Conservative Party. A spokesperson from the Party attempted to quash the backlash and dismiss the impact, said that the result “doesn’t change anything”, and, given the rhetoric following the referendum, it won’t be hard to position it as another example of ‘out of touch London elitism.’ Nevertheless, the result will be felt. This morning Grant Shapps tweeted that it was wrong for the Party not to be on the ballot and, with the Remain camp bolstered, a cohesive and unified strategy will be more important than ever, especially following the week’s earlier blunder with Mark Field’s aide’s photographed notes.

The Liberal Democrats will certainly be reinvigorated by the result. Campaigns for the 2017 and 2018 local elections have already begun but a sense confidence and faith restored, which started at Witney by-election, will be high and the Party will be emboldened.  Although still a small parliamentary force, with a new total of nine MPs, the Liberal Democrats will be looking to the local elections to increase their representation at a local level and increase their presence before the next general election, whenever it may be. Conservatives that took Liberal Democrat seats at the last election may be feeling a little less comfortable this morning.

While most of the focus this morning has been on the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party has been left trailing woefully behind, with Labour candidate Christian Wolmar failing to secure enough votes to get his deposit back. With UKIP mounting a considerable campaign in the Sleaford and North Hykeham, hoping to push Labour into third place, the Party’s position, and even relevance, in the Brexit debate and the political climate is looking increasingly uncertain. All eyes will now look to 8th December to see what 2016 has left in store.

 


Louise Page-Jennings by:
Louise Page-Jennings