back to top

Richmond Park Lib Dem Candidate Said Theresa May Is "Impressive"

Sarah Olney also said May's initial vision as prime minister was "something that many Liberal Democrats will be able to get behind".

Originally posted on
Updated on
Lib Dems

The probable Liberal Democrat candidate in the Richmond Park by-election has said she greeted the appointment of the new Conservative leader by saying: "Thank goodness Theresa May is going to be prime minister!"

Sarah Olney wrote in June that she was delighted to see another woman succeeding in public life and recognised May's "reputation for coolness, steeliness, common sense, hard work, [and] competence", although she insisted her support for the new Conservative prime minister was "equivocal".

The Lib Dem also said May "was the only candidate who could combine demonstrable competence in a major public office with the ability to inspire respect and trust from a sufficient number of her fellow Tory MPs".

Olney was selected as the Lib Dem candidate for the London constituency this summer, having joined the party following the 2015 general election.

According to party sources she is "99.9% certain" to be the party's candidate for the imminent by-election, which was prompted by the resignation of Tory MP Zac Goldsmith following the government's decision to approve the expansion of Heathrow. However, her candidature will need to be formally approved in the coming days.

The Tories have decided not to stand a candidate in the by-election, which is likely to be a direct battle between Goldsmith and Olney.

Several backbench Labour MPs unsuccessfully called for their party to stand down and back Olney as a unity anti-Brexit progressive alliance candidate, although the Lib Dem candidate's blog posts suggest she has much more time for May than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In one post Olney praised May's first speech as prime minister on the steps of Downing Street, calling it "impressive" and saying it contained pledges "that many Liberal Democrats will be able to get behind".

She also said she wished there were more Lib Dem MPs in parliament so they could work with the Conservative prime minister to implement aspects of May's stated "progressive agenda" in return for concessions on issues such as the investigatory powers bill.

"What Theresa May needs is to build bridges with like-minded MPs of other parties who would be prepared to lend her their votes to bring about the kind of change she says she wants to see," she wrote.

Olney also recently wrote about how she reluctantly agreed with Nigel Farage's description of a recording of Donald Trump talking about how he grabbed "women by the pussy" as standard "alpha male boasting".

"I'd struggle to remember anything I heard (or overheard) to be quite as bad as what Trump was recorded saying, but I've seen and heard enough to assume that it's not particularly remarkable," she wrote.

On her blog Olney also offered an opinion on the Labour coup, suggesting that as an outsider she struggled to understand Owen Smith's leadership challenge as there is "no real evidence that having Corbyn as a leader is harming them" since elections results are "not good, not bad".

However, given the state of Labour she suggested Corbyn should have stepped down regardless in a build to stop the infighting.

A Lib Dem spokesperson defended the blog posts about the Conservative prime minister: "I'm sure a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief when it wasn't Andrea Leadsom as prime minister," they said, "but I think a lot of that comfort soon evaporated when Theresa May stood up and made her party conference speech."


Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.