by John Stewart
Boris Johnson said in his acceptance speech after being elected MP for Uxbridge that he would join John McDonnell and “lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway.”
John McDonnell, re-elected as the MP for the neighbouring constituency of Hayes and Harlington, had said in his speech “Whoever’s in government, if they come back to try and build a third runway at Heathrow, we will resist on a cross-party basis, and I expect the person who will be elected to Uxbridge tonight to follow through the commitment that was given by John Randall and join with me in lying down in front of those bulldozers if they come.”
Both men feel very strongly that a third runway should not be built. And it is this that could make it very hard for the new Government to give the green-light for a new runway. Boris, too, passionately believes there are other ways forward.
Both are willing to be hugely troublesome over a third runway. There are doing much, much more than going through the motions of opposing because it is an unpopular issue locally. And they are not alone. Famously, Zac Goldsmith has said he will stand down and fight a by-election if a Conservative Government goes for a third runway runway. (In this election he increased his majority from 4,000 to an astonishing 23,000). And Putney MP Justine Greening had to be moved from her position as Transport Secretary because of her principled opposition to a new runway.
No Government would want all this troublesome and potentially embarrassing opposition any runway plans. Particularly when they know other “big beasts” in the Conservative Party are also against a third runway. Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary in the last Government,Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and probably also Theresa May, Home Secretary and Maidenhead MP.
There is also cross-party opposition from MPs around Heathrow. Windsor MP Adam Afriyie has been a consistent and very public opponent of Heathrow expansion. Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter resigned his government position when Labour was in power over the issue. Ruth Cadbury, newly-elected Labour MP in Brentford and Isleworth, has a history of effective opposition from her days on Hounslow Council. Ealing and Acton’s new Labour MP Rupa Huq, is against As were the Conservative MPs they replaced, Mary Macleod and Angie Bray, respectively. Tania Mathias, who defeated Vince Cable, made Heathrow an issue in her campaigning.
Cable himself of course was staunchly opposed as was his compatriot, Ed Davey, who lost his seat in Kingston. Pressure from Lib Dem heavyweights will be missed but, the way the results panned out generally suggest to me that that it will be increasingly difficult to contemplate a new runway at Heathrow.
This could be the election that finally killed off a third runway at Heathrow.