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Zac Goldsmith handed peerage after losing seat so he can stay on as Cabinet minister

Zac Goldsmith handed peerage after losing seat so he can stay on as Cabinet minister
2 min read

Zac Goldsmith has been given a peerage after losing his seat so he can stay on as environment minister and attend Cabinet.

He is the second former Tory MP elevated to the House of Lords by Boris Johnson to keep their jobs in his Government after Nicky Morgan last week.

The move has been criticised as undemocratic, with the Electoral Reform Society saying: “It now looks like losing your seat is no impediment to calling the shots in our political system.”

And Labour accused the Prime Minister of offering “jobs for mates”, while the Liberal Democrats said it made a “mockery of his so called People's Government”.

Mr Goldsmith was defeated by Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney in his Richmond Park constituency last week by more than 7,500 votes.

He had previously held the seat between 2010 and 2016 before resigning over Heathrow and forcing a by-election, which he lost to Ms Olney.

But less than a year later at the 2017 election he regained his seat for the Tories, and was made a minister by Mr Johnson when he entered Number 10 in July this year.

However the staunchly pro-Brexit Mr Goldsmith was always expected to struggle to win again as his leafy South West London constituency voted heavily to remain in the EU.

There had been speculation the former Mayor of London candidate would follow Ms Morgan to the upper chamber so he could keep his role spread across the environment and international development departments, for which he also attends the PM’s weekly Cabinet meetings.

And the Government confirmed it on Thursday in a statement, saying: “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.”

Ms Olney said in response: “Along with the appointment of Nicky Morgan, we are seeing Boris Johnson now making a mockery of his so called 'People's Government'.

"It is the first days of Parliament returning and already Boris Johnson is rewarding his cronies with peerages and threatening to make a no deal, which will damage our communities and public services, far more likely."

And Labour’s shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Jon Trickett, said: “It says everything you need to know about Boris Johnson’s respect for democracy that he has ignored the voters of Richmond Park and appointed Goldsmith to Government.

“The public deserve better than a Government appointed by ‘jobs for mates’.”

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