London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has never been afraid to rock the political boat.

LAST MONTH: Goldsmith's main rival Sadiq Khan "overwhelmed" by support after winning Labour mayoral candidate election 

He may be standing as the high-profile candidate for the Conservatives to succeed current Mayor Boris Johnson but the Richmond Park MP regularly questions his own party’s decisions.

Only this week, the 40-year-old called for a second debate over George Osborne’s hugely controversial proposed tax credit cuts.

Amid a fast and furious campaign, Goldsmith met with reporter Tom Ambrose at Conservative Campaign HQ in central London to talk tax credit cuts, Elm Guest House paedophile ring claims, the mayoral race and more...

Q: You signed a motion calling for another debate on George Osborne's tax credit cut proposals. Why did you not vote to reverse them?

Zac Goldsmith: The Labour motion was to kill the measure altogether and I don't agree with that. I think the system does need to be reformed, it has got completely out of control since it was invented.

You have got this great swirling system with effectively the Government compensating people for not being paid properly in the first place.

It's more complicated than that but that's a big part of it so I think the system does need to be reformed, we were all elected on the basis we would reduce the overall bill.

My concern is people on very low pay will be hit by this and the Chancellor has said that the wage increases will compensate people for the losses but that's not clear yet and it needs to be made clear.

The purpose of the debate that I have co-sponsored is to really tease that out and to look at what measures we need to mitigate the effects on the lowest paid. It is a really complex system.

There is a lack of clarity about what impact this will actually have on the lowest paid and I want to make sure whatever reforms go through insulate the lowest paid and that people don't get left in impossible situations.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Success: Goldsmith romped to victory in his Richmond Park constituency with a 23,015 majority (Pic credit: Jon Sharman)

Q: Does the fact that Labour grew its vote in London at the General Election give you cause for concern?

ZG: Labour did better in London than it did elsewhere and there is no doubt that, as a party, we start some distance behind Labour.

It is going to be a real challenge but London is not a Labour city. If Labour win, it will be because they reached out beyond their base and the same is true of the Conservative party.

I have to reach out way beyond the Conservative base. I think that is very doable. I think people in London are much less party tribal. It is a big campaign and a high energy one but the outcome is far from certain for anyone.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Tsunami: Goldsmith believes the Corbyn effect will impact on next year's mayoral vote

Q: Does the huge amount of support for Jeremy Corbyn impact negatively on your mayoral campaign?

ZG: Sadiq Khan was selected against-the-odds, at the last minute, on the back of the Corbyn tsunami. That, therefore, means that there are lots of people who took part in the Corbyn win who will be at the disposal of the Labour machine.

It would be dangerous to discount or to dismiss it. But then my job is to try and recruit as many people as possible from across London to help with my campaign. It really is surprising the number of people coming forward from right across London.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Ally: With Mayor of London Boris Johnson in Teddington to support Tania Mathias pre-election

Q: As popular as Corbyn may be, the current Mayor of London Boris Johnson still enjoys a huge amount of popularity among voters. How tough an act would he be to follow?

ZG: I have worked very closely with Boris on a lot of issues and he has been very helpful. He has got a good legacy and the challenge for the next four years and more is, in some ways, different to the challenges he has faced.

He has delivered record investment across London, I don't think we have ever had as much investment as we have over the last seven years. We have a Victorian-age expansion of our transport system, which Boris can take credit for.

In a time of serious economic gloom, he has managed to renew people with a sense of confidence, which a lot of other politicians have struggled to do. I will partially be campaigning to build on his legacy but also looking at new challenges.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

How-Zac: The Tory candidate will be campaigning on green spaces for Londoners

Q: You were accused in a recent radio interview of 'being born with a silver spoon in your mouth'. How are you going down with the electorate away from Richmond?

ZG: Those are questions that are asked everywhere, even when I was selected in Richmond Park and North Kingston. On average, it is an affluent area but there are pockets of deprivation and in many cases it is worse to be deprived in an affluent area rather than in a generally more deprived area because the contrast is so stark.

It's rare around London to come across issues that, in one way or another, don't surface in my own constituency. There is a concern about affordable, there is a concern about availability of housing in general and there are concerns about quality of life, about green spaces, about pollution.

There are concerns about transport and its efficiency. All of these concerns are London concerns - there is very little that comes up in Havering and Enfield that doesn't have some resonance with Richmond and North Kingston.

It's not an alien environment within London.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Battle: Goldsmith, a vocal opponent of the plan, insists Heathrow expansion "will not happen"

Q: You said you would step down as an MP if Heathrow expansion went ahead but would you step down as Mayor of London?

ZG: I don't think that's going to happen because I genuinely believe that we have won the arguments. The only case for Heathrow expansion is clearly economic and there isn't one, it has crumbled.

At best, you get 12 extra international routes and a third runway and Heathrow doesn't deny that. The Government is trying to make a decision based on facts and the facts are very, very clear. If I'm wrong then I will stick to my pledge to stand down as an MP.

Would I step down as Mayor? No, I wouldn't. I made the pledge in 2008 because people didn't believe David Cameron, they didn't believe the 'no ifs, no buts' comment.

That doesn't have any bearing on the mayoral context. As a candidate for Mayor or as the Mayor, if I am successful, I hope I would be able to continue to influence the debate. The bottom line is Heathrow expansion is not going to happen.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Committed: Goldsmith admits he will have to be more efficient with time as mayoral campaign hots up

Q: How can you balance the mayoral campaign with being the people of Richmond and North Kingston's MP?

ZG: I won't allow this to have an impact on my constituency work. My surgeries, meetings, my public meetings, that remains the same, I am MP for the area and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

I have to be more efficient with my time but it hasn't yet had an impact on my work as a constituency MP and I aim to keep it that way.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Beginnings: Goldsmith first won the Richmond Park and North Kingston seat in 2010

Q: If you are elected as Mayor, do you still intend to stand down from your seat and trigger a byelection?

ZG: Yes, I love doing the job but I don't think you can do both of those jobs. You can do it for a short period of time but you certainly can't do it in the long-term because I don't think time would allow it.

But more importantly than that, when it comes to making decisions on Transport for London or allocation of police funding, there are so many issues where you don't want to be accused of bias or conflict of interest. So yes, is the answer to that in short.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Defiant: Goldsmith said he has "no questions to answer" over Elm Guest House (pictured) paedophile allegations

Q: Tell me about the calls for you to withdraw your claims made in Parliament about the alleged VIP paedophile ring which operated at Elm Guest House in Barnes.

ZG: I never was going to have to give evidence to the Home Affairs select committee, that was a complete fabrication. I was never going to be asked to appear because there were no questions to answer. I made three claims.

One that abuse happened at Elm Guest House, one that abuse happened at Grafton Close care home and one that investigations into those things were bungled at best and suspiciously so. We know that those things are true, we know that abuse happened at Elm Guest House, we know that there was abuse at Grafton Close, there have been convictions.

And we know the investigations were so bad that the Home Secretary, not just me, initiated the Goddard inquiry, in part, on the back of that. Bear in mind that I have never named an individual and never will.

I have never used parliamentary privilege despite having been accused of doing so because I have no idea. I'm not qualified to know what's true and what's false. I want the experts to deal with those issues and I don't want to have to become one of those experts because that's not who I am.

I think there is a bit of political mischief-making around this issue and I absolutely stand by those claims. It is essential the inquiry continues and that there is closure on a really ugly episode because there is no doubt that those things happened.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Cashback: Goldsmith praised the successful community campaign to retain a cashpoint in Barnes

Q: And to finish on a very local community issue - the campaign, which you backed, to retain a cashpoint in Barnes was a success.

ZG: I'm really pleased that Barclays eventually agreed to keep a cashpoint there, even though they are closing the branch - it is a good result.

The community really made it happen, the Barnes Community Association ran a great campaign and it is important, that stuff matters.