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Zac Goldsmith Will Be The Tories' Candidate In Richmond Park, Risking Three Political Defeats In 13 Months

And Esther McVey, the former employment minister, will stand in George Osborne's former seat in Tatton.

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Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

After a dismal 2016, Zac Goldsmith is set for a political comeback.

Conservative party members welcomed Goldsmith back into the fold on Wednesday night, selecting him as their candidate in Richmond Park. It's only been five months since Goldsmith lost the formerly safe seat to the Liberal Democrats after forcing a by-election in protest at the government's policy on Heathrow.

Goldsmith will fight to regain his old seat after clinching the Tory nomination at a selection meeting in Richmond, southwest London.

In Tatton, Cheshire, another political comeback was taking shape on Wednesday night: Esther McVey, the former employment minister, was chosen by Tory members as their candidate for the seat vacated by George Osborne.

McVey, a former morning TV presenter, had been a Tory MP in Wirral West, in Merseyside, but lost her seat to Labour in 2015. She had been blamed by some for controversial welfare cuts.

Osborne, who quit parliament after Theresa May called a snap election this month and will now edit the London Evening Standard newspaper, congratulated McVey in a tweet.

Huge congratulations to @EstherMcVey1, new Tatton PPC. A real star. I couldn't have a better successor. A one-woman Northern Powerhouse.

In London, Goldsmith was handed a political lifeline by party members.

Last May, he was soundly defeated by Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral race. He was widely criticised during the campaign for accusing his opponent of having links to Islamic extremists.

Then, in October, Goldsmith resigned as an MP in protest at the government's decision to allow expansion of Heathrow airport, triggering a by-election in which he stood as an independent.

Goldsmith had held Richmond Park since 2010 and had a majority of more than 23,000. Instead of being rewarded by constituents for taking a stand about Heathrow expansion, which is deeply unpopular in the area, Goldsmith lost the seat to the Liberal Democrats' Sarah Olney by around 2,000 votes. The Lib Dems turned the campaign into a de facto vote on Brexit.

At the hustings on Wednesday night, Goldsmith faced competition from Laura Farris, a barrister, and Liam Parker, an IT executive.

Alex Spence is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alex Spence at alex.spence@buzzfeed.com.

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