Labour government could scrap Heathrow airport expansion, John McDonnell hints

‘At the moment it does not qualify based on the criteria we set out,’ says shadow chancellor

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 03 November 2019 12:58
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John McDonnell hints Heathrow expansion could be cancelled by a Labour government

John McDonnell has suggested a Labour government could scrap Heathrow’s expansion as it does not meet the party’s tests to tackle the climate crisis.

The shadow chancellor, a longtime opponent of the airport’s expansion, with his constituency under the flightpath, also insisted Labour was “working hard” to deliver on its plans to make the nation carbon-neutral by 2030.

Despite opposing the Heathrow plans on environmental grounds, Labour gave its MPs a free vote on the issue and it eventually passed the House of Commons in 2018.

Then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who was also opposed to airport expansion, avoided the vote by flying out of the country for a last-minute official visit to Afghanistan.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the shadow chancellor said: “We set ourselves criteria, one of which was environmental impact, the other was also economic and social impact. On the current criteria, we’ve said clearly, Heathrow expansion doesn’t qualify.”

Pressed if Labour would cancel the extension, he replied: “At the moment it does not qualify based on the criteria we set out.”

Other expansions across the country, including in Manchester, would also be considered under the criteria, he added.

Mr McDonnell, a close ally of the Labour leader, also sought to reassure the Jewish community that Labour was attempting to eradicate antisemitism after being shown three Jewish newspapers with highly critical headlines.

“I’m so saddened by this. I just want to reassure them that we’re doing everything we can,” he said. “Everything I said we would do we are doing in terms of the Labour Party in terms of eradicating antisemitism from the party.”

Mr McDonnell also expressed optimism over Labour’s chances in the first December election for almost a century – despite a number of polls putting the party far behind Mr Johnson’s Conservatives.

Asked if it feels like a winning campaign, he said: “It does actually. I think the polls are coming our way. I think they are beginning to move in our direction. We know how far we are behind in the polls, not as far as in 2017.”

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