Zac Goldsmith has officially confirmed he is to resign as a Tory MP after the Government backed a Heathrow expansion.
HuffPost UK revealed this morning the former London mayoral candidate was set to stand down as MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston in protest, which was confirmed by the Treasury this afternoon.
Being appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern effectively means he is standing down - being released from the position means he can stand in the by-election as an independent.
The move will mean a straight fight between Goldsmith and the Liberal Democrats as the Tories have opted not to put forward a rival candidate.
A Conservative spokesman said:
“The Government is taking decisive action in the national interest to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.
“That’s why we have delivered on our manifesto commitment to respond to the Airports Commission’s final report and have announced our support for the first full-length runway in the South East since the Second World War.
“We disagree with Zac about the need for a by-election in light of this decision, but understand his position. He has been a hard-working champion for the people of Richmond Park – as we know he will continue to be if they re-elect him as their Member of Parliament – so we will not be putting up a candidate against him at this by-election.”
The Lib Dems held the seat until 2010, though Goldsmith as a Tory had a strong majority of more than 20,000 votes.
Goldsmith made clear his displeasure at the decision earlier in the House of Commons.
He told MPs:
“Government has chosen a course that is not only wrong, it is doomed.
“It is wrong because of the million people who will directly suffer on the back of the environmental harm this project unavoidably produces, and doomed because of the complexities, the cost, the legal complications mean this project is almost certainly not going to be delivered.”
“I believe this will be a millstone around this Government’s neck for many, many years to come.
“A constant source of delay, anger and betrayal among those people who will be directly affected.
“I have to tell you Mr Speaker there are so many questions one could ask in a statement of this sort.
“I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
“So I simply use this opportunity to put my absolute opposition on the record.”
In an announcement to Richmond Park Tories earlier today, it was confirmed that Goldsmith will honour his pledge to force a by-election in the constituency.
“You will no doubt have seen the announcement in the media this morning that the government has given the green light for expansion at Heathrow,” the email read.
“Zac has contacted the association to let us know that he intends to honour his pledge to resign and force a by-election in Richmond Park.”
“The chairman has called an emergency meeting for the executive council for Wednesday evening to discuss the turn of events and will issue a full statement to members on the association’s position.”