EXCL Labour accuse Boris Johnson of ‘lying to voters’ over Heathrow opposition
Labour have accused Boris Johnson of "lying" to voters as it emerged he will miss a crunch vote on Heathrow because of a trip to Afghanistan.
The Foreign Secretary is a longstanding opponent of a third runway at the airport, and once said he would "lie down in front of the bulldozers" to stop it being built.
Theresa May has ordered her MPs to support the scheme, meaning Mr Johnson would have had to resign if he voted against it in the Commons tonight.
The Prime Minister confirmed last week that her Cabinet colleague would be overseas at the time, but the precise location was kept under wraps.
However, the Afghan foreign ministry confirmed in a tweet that the Cabinet minister was visiting their country.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald told PoliticsHome: "The Foreign Secretary said he would lie in front of the bulldozers and true to his word he is lying to the people he represents by being in Afghanistan today.
"Boris made his oppositions to Heathrow a matter of principle. Unfortunately for his constituents, he doesn’t have any."
The Foreign Secretary said: "At this important moment when Afghan-led efforts towards peace and a political settlement have gained considerable impetus, I was proud and inspired to be in Kabul to see how the UK is working in support of the Afghan government to achieve this goal.
"I urge all countries with influence in Afghanistan, especially in the neighbourhood, to use it constructively at this crucial moment.
"My visit comes just as the UK is considering the request from the US and Nato to give additional assistance to Resolute Support. I was hugely impressed by the work done by British troops as a part of this NATO mission and I believe there is still a lot the UK could contribute to this vital operation. The Government will be taking a decision very soon."
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has told his Uxbridge constituents that his resignation “would achieve absolutely nothing” and insisted he would use his Cabinet position to "lobby colleagues within the Government".
The Foreign Secretary has been widely mocked by his own colleagues for swerving the vote following his full-throated commitment to oppose the move.
Former trade minister Greg Hands, who stood down from his ministerial position to oppose the Government’s plans said in a tweet: “Great to arrive back in the UK at Luton Airport in time for the match today and to vote against Heathrow expansion tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to be abroad for either of those #commitments.
Tory backbencher Justine Greening responded, saying: “Great you’re back Greg! I wouldn’t want any long-term MP campaigners against Heathrow expansion to miss their chance to represent their community. #commitment #bulldozer.
Meanwhile Health Committee chair Sarah Wollaston said it would "be a nice touch if Boris could arrive for the vote by bulldozer",