- Title: Liberal Democrats hope to strike gold in Richmond
- Date: 11th December 2019
- Summary: POSTER FOR CONSERVATIVE PARTY CANDIDATE ZAC GOLDSMITH
- Embargoed: 25th December 2019 18:04
- Keywords: Conservative Party Liberal Democrats Richmond Sarah Olney Zac Goldsmith marginal constintuency
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA002B9J9Y6F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:As the British election campaign drew to a close on Wednesday (December 11), Boris Johnson's opponents were hoping his status as Brexiteer in chief would cost his party in parts of the country that voted to remain in the EU.
The affluent south London area of Richmond is famous for its 2,500 acre park home to a population of wild deer.
Despite the apparent calm here a battle is waging as Conservative incumbent Zac Goldsmith defends his wafer-thin majority of just 45 seats.
His challenger is the Liberal Democrats' Sarah Olney who was out tramping the streets in the winter sunshine on Wednesday, canvassing to convince last minute waverers.
She says the campaign is going well and that the top issue on the doorstep is Brexit, with 69.3 percent of voters in the wider Richmond area having voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 poll.
"People around here voted remain, they don't want Brexit anyway but they certainly don't have any faith in Boris Johnson to deliver it," she said.
But more than three years after the referendum result which sent shockwaves through the British political establishment, even some of those who opposed the exit are weary and seduced by Johnson's promise to "get Brexit done".
Constituent Mark Matza said he had voted remain but that the Liberal Democrats' promise to block Brexit was undemocratic.
"There was a result, disappointing though it was for the referendum, a lot of people who want to leave, and I accept that result and that's part of the due process of politics as I see it," he said after a run-in with Olney.
A short drive through the constituency's wide, leafy avenues, in its commercial district busy with Christmas shoppers, local Conservative campaigners were out leafleting for Goldsmith.
The high-profile cabinet minister is well-known locally, particularly after his failed bid to become mayor of London in 2016.
Conservative campaigners said Goldsmith was popular with local residents but that fears about the impact of Brexit, particularly on the country's economy, came up when they were out canvassing.
"We try to encourage people to see beyond Brexit to the economy. The economy is very important to the people here in Richmond," canvasser Jane Shalders said.
A much-watched poll by YouGov published on Tuesday (December 10) saw the Liberal Democrats ahead in Richmond Park but nationally the centrist party is extremely unlikely to take power.
In the event that Johnson fails to win a national majority, however, they could be crucial in lending their support to the opposition Labour Party.
Many in Richmond said they were switched off by the socialist head of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, though they did not have much time for either leader.
"I'm only voting for the least worst of the worst bunch," said constituent Lauren Barnett, declining to say who she meant.
(Production: Graham Kelly, Johnny Cotton)
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