The Tories will not put up a candidate against Zac Goldsmith if he quits the party and stands as an independent, party sources claim.
Yesterday the Richmond Park MP confirmed he will trigger a by-election and run on an independent ticket if Heathrow gets the go-ahead, as is expected.
But Tory sources say the party would not challenge him in the by-election as they fear splitting the vote and losing the seat, which would be “more embarrassing”.
“The problem is they don’t want to be a hostage to fortune”, said one source, who said it was “very unlikely they will put up a candidate against Zac”.
One Tory insider said the party also fears a “domino effect” of MP resignations following a Goldsmith victory, saying it was “worried Twickenham would follow suit”, amongst others.
Twickenham’s anti-Heathrow MP, Tania Mathias, was among Tories who secretly voted on Monday to support Goldsmith rather than an official Conservative candidate.