Tag Archives: sarah olney

Sarah Olney interview part 1: Before becoming an MP

You get bad people in power because good people are doing other things.

Sarah Olney

Imagine, for just a second, less than two years ago you were living in relative obscurity. You were known to only a select few people – friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues. You belonged to no political party. Then, in only a few months, you rose from anonymity to the hottest national topic of the day, creating history along the way. The contrast is almost unimaginable. In short, that’s the story of Sarah Olney.

Five months have yet to pass since she overturned a 23,000 majority to pull off an incredible by-election victory, over the well-known Zac Goldsmith, to become MP for Richmond Park. The Lib Dems newest parliamentarian was attending her first party conference as a backbencher (and only her second since joining the party). In between handshakes and selfies, Sarah took half an hour from her busy schedule for an interview with me, over tea and cake, in the Conference’s Parliamentarians Lounge.

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WATCH: The Conference rally with Olney, Clegg, Farron, Malik and Pearcey

We reported on the Conference rally the other night. Now you can watch the whole thing here. See Sarah Olney thank her helpers and talk about why she joined the party and is fighting Brexit. See Nick Clegg take apart the Brexiteers’ case and warn of the populists undermining the checks on their power. See Jackie Pearcey tell us why we should go to Manchester Gorton to help her. See Hina Malik talk about her passion for dives it and how Simon Hughes and Nick Clegg persuaded her to join the party.

Finally, Tim Farron, after the obligatory pops at George Osborne and Dr Paul Nuttall, talk of Liberal Democrat values of internationalism and of giving EU nationals the right to stay and about why the people having the final say on the Brexit deal was so important.

Enjoy!

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Inspiring women: Sarah Olney MP

How brilliant was it at 3 whatever it was in the morning of 1st December when Sarah Olney was declared the MP for Richmond Park? She certainly deserves to be acclaimed as one of this year’s inspiring Lib Dem women. Her speech at the count, full of liberal principle, got many of us in the gut.

Last week, she spoke for the party in the International Women’s Day Debate in the Commons. Here is her speech in full:

May I say how pleased I am to represent the Liberal Democrats in this debate on International Women’s Day, as the 454th female MP? I am proud to say, in contrast to some previous Members’ contributions, that I am not the first, nor even the second, woman to have held my seat. I am, in fact, the third Liberal Democrat woman to represent Richmond Park, and I am extremely proud of that.

One of the advantages of being a London MP is that I get to go home to my family every evening and spend time with them every morning. As the mother of young children, this is a particular blessing to me, but it does mean that I live a life of contrasts. Yesterday, for example, I spent the first part of the morning trying to get my son to clean his teeth and my daughter to brush her hair. I then travelled into Westminster and challenged the Prime Minister in the Chamber about her spending priorities for education. Of the two things, the latter was more remarked upon—it was heard by Members here, recorded in Hansard and shared on Twitter—but getting my son to clean his teeth was the greater achievement in many ways. It took more ingenuity, effort and emotional commitment, but nobody noticed, cared or applauded me for it.

It often sounds ironic or self-deprecating to refer to the tasks of motherhood as being more taxing than tasks carried out in the professional sphere, but in this case, I am not being ironic; it is precisely true. We are so used to underplaying the work we do as mothers and in the home that we do not think anyone will take us seriously if we talk seriously about it. So today, in the spirit of the motion to recognise the achievements of women, I want to celebrate the everyday, unacknowledged, unrewarded and unnoticed achievements of women.

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Sarah Olney holds first Westminster Hall debate on Heathrow expansion

There’s a lot of firsts when you are a new MP. Your first Early Day Motion (like a House of Commons petition), your first speech, your first question, and your first Westminster Hall debate. These debates, held outside the main chamber, concentrate on one subject and allow an MP to raise an issue directly with the Minister.

It will be of no surprise that Sarah’s first Westminster Hall debate was on the subject of Heathrow expansion and the effects in terms of road congestion and pollution of a bigger airport.

You can read the full debate – including the Deputy Speaker’s rebukes to both Sarah and a colleague for breaking the rules and a fairly patronising response from the Minister – here. Below is Sarah’s speech in full.

And she shouldn’t worry about a minor rebuke from the Speaker. Others have done worse and survived. Willie Rennie forgot to turn his phone off before one debate in 2007 and got a right telling off when one of his staff (not me) rang him during a Westminster Hall debate.

This is what Sarah said yesterday:

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Sarah Olney: Richmond Park By-Election was one of the best experiences of my life

Our newest MP has been talking to The House magazine, along with other recent by-election winners, about the Liberal Democrats’ winning campaign in Richmond Park. She described it as one of the best experiences of her life:

Running in a by-election was one of the best experiences of my life. I am very new to politics, I’ve never been involved in a parliamentary campaign of any kind, I’ve never been a candidate in any election before, so I had no idea what to expect. It was quite a high profile campaign, right from the beginning I was right in the

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ICYMI: Sarah Olney’s speech in the Article 50 debate: We can’t build country without fear & poverty by turning our back on our neighbours

When I think of the country that I would like my generation to give to our children, I think of a country that lives without fear, poverty and inequality, but we cannot build that world by turning our back on our neighbours, closing the door to our friends, turning a blind eye to tyranny or walking hand in hand with intolerance.

Sarah Olney has got the hang of making great speeches in the House of Commons pretty quickly. In the Article 50 debate, she spoke from the heart while revealing the obfuscation of the Government as they try to deny people the true information about the consequences of Brexit. Here is her speech in full:

In this country, we have settled, through a process of trial and error, on a system of parliamentary democracy as the most effective form of governance. The importance of Parliament’s role was once again asserted by the Supreme Court last week. The responsibility of parliamentarians is clear: to take decisions in the best interests of the country with particular regard for the needs of their constituents. I believe that leaving the European Union will be hugely damaging for this country; the British people, through the referendum, narrowly expressed a different view. It is now up to Parliament to take account of the result of the referendum and decide what is in the best interests of the country.

There is no evidence, and none has been presented, that the best interests of the country will be served by the immediate triggering of article 50 and the pursuit of the hardest Brexit possible. It seems to me an abdication of responsibility to say that the only factor that can be considered in deciding whether to trigger article 50 is the result of the referendum. “The will of the people” cannot be tied down to one single point and be presumed never to change or waver. It should not be assumed that the decision of a narrow majority of people, willing and entitled to express a view on 23 June, should be the only thing to determine the fate of the whole population for now and many decades into the future. This is not the end of the debate; it is only the beginning.

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Sarah Olney’s message for Chinese New Year

It’s a Sarah Olney kind of day today!

Here is our newest MP’s message for Chinese New Year.

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LibLink: Sarah Olney: Theresa May’s visit to Turkey betrays our liberal values

Fresh from her meeting in Washington with a man who has extolled the effectiveness of torture, admitted sexually assaulting women and who thinks building walls between nations is a good idea, our Prime Minister heads today to meet the leader of a so-called democracy where human rights mean nothing and journalists are imprisoned.

Sarah Olney has written a blistering article in the Guardian, attacking the PM for betraying our liberal values instead of safeguarding our trading relationship with the democracies on our doorstep.

This tawdry tour shames Britain. This is a defining period on the international stage and we must consider to what extent this new course is safeguarding both our interests and values around the world.

In an age of “alternative facts”, there is no doubt about the realities of the Erdoğan regime. Even before last July’s failed coup, Erdoğan had begun systematically dismantling Turkey’s democratic institutions. Since the coup, he has embraced full-frontal authoritarianism. He is not only locking up journalists, but teachers, professors and policemen – all without due process. Not quite the outfit you’d have in mind for a regime described yesterday as an “indispensable partner” by Theresa May.

>Indeed, turn the clock back eight months and our now foreign secretary was slating the Turkish president. Yet Boris Johnson has fallen unusually silent – refusing to call Erdoğan out on his shocking crimes. There is a pattern here: ministers pursuing business deals on the international stage at odds with Britain’s best traditions and values.

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Tim Farron’s message to the London Women’s March: We fight back against divisiveness and intolerance by working together

I may have spoken too soon last night. Seems like the leader was on the case after all.

And here is Sarah Olney MP leading the Lib Dem delegation at the march.

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Sarah Olney’s maiden speech

Well, it has been a long time since we have been able to report on the maiden speech of a Liberal Democrat MP.

Sarah spoke today in the debate on the impact of Brexit on science and research. Until a few weeks ago she was working at the National Physical Laboratory, which lies just across the Thames from her Richmond Park constituency, so she has an insider’s view on the subject.

Here is her speech (taken from the rolling feed on Hansard which may be subject to correction):

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Goodwill towards us is growing, and so it should

 

More than 2000 years ago, so the story goes, angels sang ‘Goodwill towards all mankind.’ It’s a sentiment that Liberal Democrats can generally support. The point I want to suggest, however, is that the British people feel an increasing goodwill towards us, which seems likely to grow and enhance our electoral chances.

The first essential was that we should be seen and heard. Now Sarah Olney’s magnificent victory has given us the media coverage that dispels the 18-month myth of our irrelevance.

The next essential was that the image projected should be an attractive one. For the voters of Richmond Park and Kingston it obviously was, and for us Lib Dems the sight of the beaming faces of victor and Leader together in front of the cameras was a delight.

Image is vital for success in politics, but what did that image amount to for the public? What, for a start, was the new MP saying? “I knew I was a Liberal – I believe in openness, fairness, compassion, working with our neighbours at home and around the world”, Sarah said in her acceptance speech. She spoke of the rise of anger and bitterness in politics, and pledged that “We will stand up for the open, tolerant, united Britain that we believe in.”

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Next priority – elect a second Green MP

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I hope it hasn’t been forgotten that the Green Party didn’t stand a candidate in Richmond Park, and expressly backed Sarah Olney. Labour did stand a candidate, but it was widely reported that some Labour members didn’t think they should have.

On the other side of course, neither the Conservatives nor UKIP stood, therefore leaving the centre-right vote clear for Zac Goldsmith. It was an unusual by-election, 95% of the vote went to two people. There may not be another by-election like this in this parliament.

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What a campaign!

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The Richmond Park campaign was the biggest the party has ever done. Phew!

In writing this post I don’t want to give away too many campaigning strategies, although the media have been pretty quick to spot our ways of working. They know that we are good at ‘deploying’ volunteers, but they don’t really understand how we do it. How, they wonder, do we manage to recruit 1000 people in one weekend, from all over the country? How do we get them to travel and stay at their own expense and then embark on some punishing walking, talking and delivering in the cold and dark for hours on end?

However, I know that many of our readers do understand what that is all about. We all care passionately about our values and the vision we have for our society, and we enjoy putting them into action in the company of like-minded people, who quickly become our friends.

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Richmond Park: what happens next for Sarah Olney and her team?

10 years ago, I was part of the team in the last by-electon we gained, when Willie Rennie spectacularly won Dunfermline and West Fife in then Chancellor Gordon Brown’s backyard. At that time it was a political earthquake. It was also a huge victory at a time of crisis for our party. Only weeks before, Charles Kennedy had resigned as leader. During the by-election campaign there seemed to be a tabloid scandal about our leadership candidates around every half hour. We still came through and elected Willie as our 63rd MP.

A decade on, we only have a 7th of that number and the Richmond Park by-election win comes at a time when our party has stared down extinction. It confirms what we have come to realise over the past few months – that the old adage that where we have a presence, and are willing to put the effort in, we can have some spectacular results. That should also impress anyone who might be thinking about backing us financially. That backing in turn gives us the capacity to expand our operations, creating a virtuous cycle. We have to make sure that we seize this moment.

Sarah Olney enters the Commons as part of a band of 9 and as the only woman. The 8 men will need to make extra effort to make sure that they welcome her and listen to her.  One of the things we found really useful was the advice and support from colleagues and I’m sure that they will have lots of helpful advice for her and her team.  Susan Kramer as the previous MP for the constituency will no doubt be a marvellous help too.

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Richmond Park is an important milestone – but it’s only the start

Well, we’re winning parliamentary by-elections again. Who’d have thought it possible on that awful night almost 19 months ago?

Liberal Democrats everywhere are grinning this morning. We’ve seen the brilliant local government results over the past few months. We saw the amazing Liz Leffman surge forward in the Tory heartland of Witney in October. Now, we have actually won another MP.

We shouldn’t under-estimate how massive a task winning Richmond Park was. It’s only been 37 days since Zac resigned. We had just over 5 weeks to change the agenda from Heathrow to Brexit and win the argument. A combination of clever literature, a fantastic candidate and an army of activists prepared to drop everything did it. Way back in the 90s when we were winning by-elections all the time, we had at least 3 times as long to make our case.

We also shouldn’t under-estimate how important it was that we won this. It was a seat we used to hold with a whacking great Remain vote. If we hadn’t, even if we had had a Witney type surge, people would have doubted our ability to change the political weather.

Sarah Olney’s victory has shown that we have still got what it takes to win the big moments. That is incredibly important for the outside world to see. Theresa May will be hoping that her MPs in similar seats to Richmond, where there is Liberal Democrat history, don’t cause any further by-elections.

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Lib Dems win Richmond Park: Reaction led by Tim Farron and Sal Brinton

Here’s some of the reaction to Sarah Olney’s incredible victory in Richmond Park.

Tim Farron said that the Liberal Democrats are the standard bearers for those who oppose the dangerous path towards Brexit being pursued by the Government.

The message is clear: The Liberal Democrats are back and we are carrying the torch for all of those who want a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government.

We are the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united, and the only party that has said, loudly and proudly, that we want Britain to remain a member of the Single Market and that we want the people to be given the final say over the Brexit deal. That message has been resoundingly backed by the people of Richmond Park.

This was a remarkable, come-from-nowhere upset that will terrify the Conservatives. A year and a half ago, their man won by nearly 40% and had a majority of more than 20,000. In one fell swoop we have wiped that out completely.

If this was a General Election, this swing would mean the Conservatives would lose dozens of seats to the Liberal Democrats – and their majority with it. No one believes the Labour Party will win any seats off the Tories – and the SNP could only possibly take one off them. But there are dozens in our reach. So, as this by-election has demonstrated, the only way to prevent a Conservative majority at the next election is to vote Liberal Democrat.

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In full: Sarah Olney’s victory speech: No to politics of division. We will defend the Britain we love

Just in case you missed it earlier, we won! Sarah Olney defeated Zac Goldsmith by 1872 votes.

We can’t call her Sarah Olney MP yet. She only officially acquires that title when she takes the oath in the Commons on Monday.

Her speech at the count tonight was gracious, determined and passionate. Here it is in full:

Let me start by thanking the other candidates for a hard-fought campaign – and to Zac Goldsmith in particular, I wish you well and assure you that I will continue your fight against the expansion of Heathrow.

I also would like to thank the returning officer, the staff that have worked so hard today and yesterday and of course the police. I want to thank my amazing campaign team led by James Lillis and the thousands of volunteers who have taken time to support me over the course of the campaign. I want to thank my family and friends for the wonderful support they’ve given me – particularly my husband Ben and our children. I want to thank our leader Tim Farron, and all the other party members who could not have been more supportive. And I’d like to thank the Greens, More United, the Women’s Equality Party and all the other people beyond the Lib Dems who have supported me in this campaign.

A year and a half ago, I wasn’t involved in politics. I wasn’t a member of a political party. I’d never been involved in a political campaign. I’d never thought about being a politician. But I knew I was a Liberal – I believed in openness, tolerance, compassion, working with our neighbours at home and around the world – and when I saw what happened at the General Election and I felt I had to get involved.

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++++++++Breaking: Richmond Park Result: We’ve done it! Well done Sarah Olney, our Newbie MP

We have done it! We had just 37 days to persuade the voters of Richmond Park. To overturn a 23,000 majority in such a short time is incredible.

Initially, the two numbers that matter.

Zac Goldsmith 18,638

Sarah Olney 20,510

Monster Raving Loony Party 184

One Love Party 67

Christian People’s Alliance 164

Independent 173

Christian Woolmar (Labour) 1515

Liberal Democrat majority 1872 on a turnout of 53.6%. It’s a swing of 21.6%.

And the percentage changes via Britain Elects:

Sarah Olney is on Sky News now, saying that we didn’t know until the last minute how it was going to go. People wanted her to win, she says, because of Brexit. They were alarmed about the direction the Conservative Brexit government was going in.

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Richmond Park by-election: Liberal Democrats have very big smiles

“The mood music,” says the BBC’s Chris Mason, “is that the Liberal Democrats are running Zac Goldsmith very close.” He says that the Liberal Democrats have the biggest smiles.

The Guardian live blog has some piles of votes looking very close. They report that Labour and Betfair are saying we have won. Mind you, Labour are not always the best judges of such things, though, so that comes with a big health warning. We had to convince them that they had won in Glenrothes in 2008. Our box counts had the result within half a percentage point. They thought the SNP had won when it was clear to us that they hadn’t.

Let’s put some context into this.

Last year, we were absolutely stuffed in that seat, not to put too fine a point on it. We had an excellent candidate in Robin Meltzer, but this was on of the seats where the Conservatives’ scare tactics about Ed Miliband and the SNP took hold. Our support bombed from 42% to 19.3%, while Zac took 58.2%. The Labour vote unsqueezed itself. Their 12.3% was their best result since 1997.

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WATCH: Bob Geldof: “The Lib Dems are the only party ballsy enough……”

Listen to Bob Geldof explain why he wants the people of Richmond Park to vote for Sarah Olney tomorrow. Choice quotes include:

“You can’t have the settled will of the people of Richmond to stay in Europe betrayed by the poster boy of the Brexiteers.”

He appealed to pro EU voters to back Sarah Olney to beat Zac.

Bob Geldof is as I write this outside a station in the constituency campaigning with Sarah Olney.

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This week in Richmond Park – all to fight for

This was the headline in the print version of the Observer yesterday, although it came out rather differently online.

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It states:

The Liberal Democrats are to target pro-EU Labour supporters and “soft Tories” who backed remain, in a final canvassing blitz ahead of Thursday’s Richmond byelection, amid growing confidence in their camp that they are within striking distance of winning the seat.

Party documents obtained by the Observer, laying out their strategy for the final days, suggest undecided Labour voters will be key, and failure to persuade enough of them to vote tactically may prevent the Lib Dems pulling off one of the biggest byelection upsets of recent years.

… The Lib Dems’ own internal polling now puts Goldsmith on 46.7%, the Lib Dems on 43.3% and Labour on 9.5%.

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Richmond Park – a few days to win

Since the end of October our energy in London has been focused on the Richmond Park by-election. We have spent hours campaigning and gathering data about which voters will support our superb candidate, Sarah Olney next Thursday. We now have a few days to get those people who have said they will vote Liberal Democrat to do so on Thursday. Everything is now concentrated on getting out the vote (GOTV).

The next few days will be even more intense, with thousands of letters and leaflets to be delivered and, we hope, hundreds of Liberal Democrat activists moving in for the win.

Rarely has there been such an important by-election for the party and for the country. We stand to elect a Liberal Democrat woman who will add her experience to our team of MPs and demonstrate the party is back in game of taking on big money and winning. Many pundits have doubted the Liberal Democrats could bounce back within 18 months of the last General Election and achieve a sensational win. Our army of enthusiastic and energetic activists is determined to prove them wrong.

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Last weekend – big push for Sarah Olney in Richmond Park

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Yesterday I spent all day at Richmond Park. In the morning I was delivering Gazette newspapers in New Malden. Then in the afternoon I joined our very hard-working clerical team in the Kingston office. I bumped into LDV colleague, Mary Reid, who has a crucial top secret role at the Kingston office, which she fulfils every evening. I could tell you what this role involves, but I’d have to eat you afterwards.

It was great to see the streets teeming with orange diamond posters and busy LibDem volunteers.

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More United joins Greens and Women’s Equality Party in endorsing Lib Dem Sarah Olney for Richmond Park

More UnitedEarlier this week, More United consulted its members on whether to endorse Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney in the Richmond Park by-election.

The result was pretty conclusive. From More United’s email email to supporters:

The result was overwhelming. 10,000 of you voted, and 96% said we should campaign for Sarah.

We think this is an amazing chance for us to have a real impact on the result of this by-election. Sarah has said she supports our principles and has put opposition to a hard Brexit at the centre of her campaign.

Sarah is facing a tough fight against Zac Goldsmith, but if she wins it will send the Government a clear message that millions of people believe in a more united, less divided Britain.

More United seeks to support candidates who support their five key principles:

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Richmond Park massive Action Weekend in pictures

James Lillis, the Campaign Manager in Richmond Park, must have woken up with a sense of dread yesterday morning – it was raining, heavily. His challenge to the party was to get 1000 people along to the biggest Action Weekend ever.

But Liberal Democrats arrived, and kept on arriving.

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What the Party said yesterday…

The Liberal Democrat Voice team now appear to be on the Party’s press release list – it wasn’t like that in my day (mind you, there were dinosaurs then…). It dawns on me that, for campaigners out there, and the generally curious, it might be interesting to see what the Party is telling the world…

Commenting on the Govenrment’s announcement that there is to be extra investment in cyber security Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence Secretary Judith Jolly said:

It is crucial that more is done to increase our cyber security in a world where attacks on computer systems are growing ever

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How you can volunteer to help Sarah Olney win in Richmond Park

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After her selection yesterday as our candidate at the Richmond Park December 1st by-election, Sarah Olney is calling for volunteers to help her campaign.

Update: Sarah’s website has now gone live.

Click here to choose how you can help Sarah.

This webpage has the information you need about making calls.

This webpage allows you to donate to the campaign.

We leafleted the whole constituency within 48 hours of Zac Goldsmith announcing that he was standing down.

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++Lib Dems select Sarah Olney to be our candidate at the Richmond Park by-election



Sarah Olney has been selected to contest the Richmond Park and North Kingston December 1st by-election for the Liberal Democrats.

An opinion poll has shown it is a two-horse race between local woman Sarah and Zac Goldsmith, the out-going Conservative Brexit MP whose resignation triggered the by-election. Sarah, an accountant and married mother of two, was selected at a meeting of the local party in Richmond today.

Sarah Olney said:

This by-election is a chance for people to have their say on Brexit, the NHS and Heathrow. Only a vote for the Liberal Democrats will make a stand against Heathrow and Brexit, not to mention the scandalous underfunding of the NHS.

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Who will be fighting Richmond Park and Guildford in a snap General Election?

More selection news from seats the party used to hold comes in as we prepare for a possible snap election.

In Richmond Park, held by Susan Kramer until 2010, Sarah Olney has been selected to fight Zac Goldsmith. From the local Guardian:

Sarah Olney was selected on July 22 as the party believes new Prime Minister Theresa May might consider going to the country before 2020 to take advantage of Labour in-fighting and to precede a possible recession.

Ms Olney, who campaigned for GLA member Caroline Pidgeon during May’s London Assembly elections, said it would be a huge honour to represent the

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