Former Tory MP who lost seat made life peer to continue as minister

PUBLISHED: 18:40 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 18:40 19 December 2019

Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith loses his Richmond Park seat in the 2019 general election. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.

Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith loses his Richmond Park seat in the 2019 general election. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Downing Street has confirmed ousted Tory MP Zac Goldsmith will continue as a minister after being made a life peer.

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The environment minister lost his Richmond Park seat to the Liberal Democrats' Sarah Olney last week - with his support for Brexit likely playing a role in his defeat.

Downing Street said: "The Rt Hon Zac Goldsmith has been confirmed as a Minister of State (unpaid) at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for International Development.

"The Queen has been pleased to signify Her intention of conferring a peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on Zac Goldsmith."

His appointment comes after culture secretary Nicky Morgan retained her Cabinet post and was made a life peer as well - though it is thought she will only keep the job temporarily until a wider reshuffle early next year.

Goldsmith's Richmond Park seat was held by MOlney for six months between December 2016 and June 2017 when he triggered a by-election after quitting the Tories to fight Heathrow expansion as an independent candidate.

The 44-year-old had held the seat for the Tories since 2010, securing a majority of 23,000 in 2015, but lost to his Lib Dem rival by 18,638 to 20,510 after the party fought a successful anti-Brexit campaign.

The scion of the eponymous banking dynasty clawed back the constituency by the thinnest of margins, just 45 votes, in the snap election of 2017 after returning to the Conservative fold.

The 2017 result was finally called at around 7am after multiple recounts.

Goldsmith was rewarded for his change of heart with the position of environment minister in Boris Johnson's government.

But the Brexiteer struggled to win over his constituency in the 2019 election where 72% voted Remain in the EU referendum.

Olney polled 34,559 votes compared to Goldsmith's 26,793 on a turnout of 79% of the electorate.

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