Zac Goldsmith hits back at claims he is a ‘turd that won’t flush’

Zac Goldsmith is sworn in as a member of the House of Lords. Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park will re

Zac Goldsmith is sworn in as a member of the House of Lords. Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park will retain his post as Environment Minister while sitting in the Lords. Photograph: House of Lords/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Environment minister Zac Goldsmith has defended his appointment to the House of Lords - despite losing his seat in the House of Commons a month before.

In his maiden speech from the despatch box, Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park said: "I know my appointment to this House wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

"One political rival described me as a 'turd that won't flush' - a phrase my children are very unlikely to let me forget.

"But equally I know many of those heroic people engaged in the battle to protect this extraordinary planet and the species it holds are cheered by having another voice in Parliament and it is an enormous privilege."

Lord Goldsmith lost his Richmond Park seat to the Liberal Democrats in the election.

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In a debate on fishing policy, the former MP said he had been given a "surprisingly warm welcome" in the Lords but he would miss working directly for his former constituents.

Lord Goldsmith told peers the environment had preoccupied him for as long as he could remember, and dominated his work in the Commons, adding: "I'm enormously grateful that I'm able to continue doing so full time as part of a government that has made tackling these issues a top priority."

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He said the damage that humans were doing to the planet was "self-evidently" the most important issue for politicians to tackle.

The appointment of Lord Goldsmith and culture secretary Nicky Morgan to the Lords prompted Labour claims of cronyism and "jobs for mates" of the prime minister.

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