Login to access your account

Tue, 7 April 2020

Personalise Your Politics

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Press releases

MPs shout 'Where's Boris' as third runway at Heathrow finally gets Commons go-ahead

MPs shout 'Where's Boris' as third runway at Heathrow finally gets Commons go-ahead
3 min read

Boris Johnson was openly openly mocked as the House of Commons gave its backing to a third runway at Heathrow.

MPs voted 415 to 119 in favour of expanding the west London airport, despite concerns over the impact it will have on climate change and nearby communities.

Some Labour backbenchers shouted "Where's Boris" after the Foreign Secretary - a long-standing opponent of a third runway who once threatened to "lie down in front of the bulldozers" to stop it happening - avoided the vote, despite Tory MPs being ordered to back the £14bn project.

Mr Johnson was carrying out an engagement in Afghanistan, but critics said he had arranged the trip specifically to avoid the Heathrow vote.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at his fellow Conservative, Greg Hands MP - who resigned as a trade minister in order to vote against the new runway - said: "This is not just for me a debate about Heathrow, it's a debate about being true to your word and your election pledges."

Labour MP Christian Matheson asked Speaker John Bercow whether Mr Johnson would be back in time for Foreign Office questions in the Commons on Tuesday morning.

Mr Bercow said: "I have received no notification that he will not be present and correct for Foreign Office questions and therefore I feel sure that he will be."


Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had earlier urged MPs to back the scheme, which he said would "set a clear path to the future of our future as a global nation in the post-Brexit world".

He also hailed the "world-leading package of compensation", which will see those who lose their homes as a result of the new runway receiving 125% of the value of their property as compensation.

But Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, the MP for Hayes and Harlington and a long-standing opponent of Heathrow expansion, said that was cold comfort for those affected.

"There is no point offering them 125% compensation, you can’t compensate for the loss of your whole community," he said.

Mr McDonnell added: "There are human costs to this decision that this house needs to recognise and contemplate before they vote tonight to worry and blight my community once again on a project that will never – pardon the pun – take off."

Labour MPs were given a free vote on the issue, despite the party announcing that the project had failed to pass the four tests they had set in areas such as noise pollution, climate change and regional connectivity.

Around 116 Labour MPs voted for the project, and around 95 voted against.

The SNP were criticised for confirning just hours before the vote that they would be abstaining, despite the Scottish government previously saying it backed the project.

Transport spokesman Alan Brown said: "Chris Grayling has completely failed to make the case for Scotland – SNP MPs could not vote for a third runway at Heathrow with no guarantees of the benefits. 

"The SNP wants the best deal for Scotland. Any Heathrow expansion plan must provide significant benefits to our economy and connectivity, yet Grayling failed to provide any real assurances- or meet with me to give any guarantees."

But Scottish Conservative MP Luke Graham said: "Heathrow expansion will bring huge benefits to Scotland yet the SNP have ignored that in order to pursue their agenda of disruption at Westminster. 

"The idea they no longer support a third runway because Heathrow is about to become a 'ghost airport' is laughable, even by the SNP's standards.

"They have put their nationalist interests before the national interest - and they should be ashamed."


The House Magazine
The House Magazine

Read the latest issue of Parliament's weekly magazine, featuring Lindsay Hoyle, Emily Thornberry, Tom Tugendhat, Tobias Ellwood, Robert Halfon, Jess Phillips, Rosena Allin-Khan and more

Read now