Heathrow reaction: From the passionate to the ridiculous


The battles over Heathrow expansion are by no means over and a stream of reactions, potential legal actions and political subplots make the story fascinating, infuriating, and amusing all at once.


First to Boris Johnson, and his mysterious flight to Afghanistan on the day of the vote.

Greg Hands had already resigned from his cabinet post in protest against Heathrow and was later that day to be found on a pilgrimage in a monastery in Romania not taking calls - and expressing concern the monks might think he was a drug dealer because of the amount he was receiving.

This is not a joke, though it is illuminating that Mr Hands thinks a) he could ever be mistaken for a drug dealer and b) that drug dealers receive more calls than politicians.

To lose one cabinet member is unfortunate...so was Boris Johnson prepared to resign on principle after his previous dramatic opposition to the runway?

The Government has not lost Mr Johnson (from his post), mainly because it had literally lost Mr Johnson (in his person).

Early yesterday, neither the Foreign Office or the Department for Transport knew where Mr Johnson was.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling told reporters he had 'no idea' about his colleague's whereabouts.

Mr Johnson was later found (or rather pictured) apparently half way round the world having what seemed to be a follow up meeting with Afghan officials after seeing senior figures from the country only weeks before. Appointments with our foreign secretary being a bit like London buses for the Afghan people.

He justified his failure to resign on principle and vote against the Government on the basis that his actions would make 'no difference'. No comment.

However, Mr Johnson did not escape unscathed from his safe haven in Afghanistan (you are reading that right). He was at least trolled by his more committed colleagues.

One of the best reasons against Heathrow expansion is the environmental impact, which is why the environment secretary, Michael Gove, voted in favour of it. The best argument in favour is our greater connectivity with the world, which is why our foreign secretary avoided the vote altogether. 


Next we have the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who like Dostoyevsky's 'The idiot' (perhaps that should be 'The Useful Idiot') has made a series of political stances designed to please everyone - resulting in no one being very pleased.

After deciding last weekend was the right time to visit a Jordanian refugee camp, rather than attend the big Brexit demonstration, he was present for the Heathrow vote in person, if not in leadership spirit.

Mr Corbyn allowed a free vote on the plans as he was caught between his commitments to green policies on the one hand and his desire to keep the unions happy on the other.

This resulted in Mr Corbyn being defeated twice on the vote, once by the Government, once by his own MPs with some 116 Labour MPs voting for the plans, and 95 (including Corbyn) against.

Leftwing celebrity commentator Owen Jones is a man in his own political no man's land, being a natural ally of Mr Corbyn but apparently banished from the camp after (accurately) predicting his loss at the last election.

Mr Jones spoke for many on the progressive left when he tweeted about the impending dangers of global warming. It was somewhat unclear whether this was, like Ms Greening's Tweet, a form of subtle trolling itself.

If future generations ask after Mr Corbyn's response, he will be able to say he allowed a free vote and then, like the Brexit would-be rebels, took note. 


Not be outdone by the soft southern parties, who allowed some MPs to go missing, the Scottish National Party (SNP) went missing en masse. After supporting the plans, and being buttered up with the promise of more flights, the SNP suddenly decided on the eve of the vote that there were 'no guarantees of the benefits'.

They thus took the principled stand of abstaining completely, having achieved so much with a similar approach to Brexit.


With opposition in Westminster having failed, the battle cry was taken up by local authorities with threats of legal action.

Several normally sedate boroughs of West London have confirmed their intention to file for a judicial review, including Boris Johnson's Hillingdon Borough Council.

Out of the London fray, Windsor and Maidenhead, prime minister Theresa May's council, is meeting later this week to discuss options. 

How much public money the councils are willing to spend to oppose public policy is being kept discreetly out of the public eye. One council (funded by the Government) said this was to prevent the Government finding out and having some edge in the upcoming legal battle.  

Quite what edge this might give the Government was not explained. Because of the (genuine) beauty of democracy, public money is now being spent to both support and oppose Heathrow expansion, but rest assured no matter what happens, the lawyers will win.


Some activists were not prepared to take all this lying down and so decided to, well, lie down in the Houses of Parliament.

In an apparent reference to Mr Johnson's promise to lie in front of bulldozers - remember this option is still open to him, foreign trips permitting - activists lay on the floor of the Commons' central lobby and chanted loudly.

Security staff blocked off the doors to the entrance to the House of Commons in response, ensuring no MP was faced with such scenes of political commitment. 

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