New London Mayor Sadiq Khan could change his mind over the necessity to expand London Heathrow airport and back it in what is likely to become “the first political battle” with the Conservative government, Janice Atkinson, an independent Member of the European Parliament from the United Kingdom, told Sputnik.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Khan, Labour and first Muslim to hold the post, has spoken out against Heathrow expansion, as it is harmful for air quality. Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative mayor candidate who lost the election, even promised to resign and force a by-election in case the government backs building a third runway at Heathrow.
“Heathrow expansion is the first real political battle. Khan has flip-flopped on this, mainly to get election, but London needs an expanded Heathrow. Cameron kicked this into the long grass to avoid clashing with Goldsmith, who was opposed to Heathrow, and [Prime Minister David] Cameron doesn’t have a very good track record on Heathrow either. It will be an interesting fight, perhaps the Mayor will back Heathrow,” Atkinson said.
Cameron has been reluctant to make an official statement on the issue, but International Development Secretary Justine Greening predicted in March that the Cabinet would conclude that the airport should not be expanded.
“British politics will be an interesting place because there is now a London Labour mayor, a Conservative government with four more years to serve and an unelectable Labour opposition,” Atkinson added.
As Britain is running out of airport capacities in the south of England, there are fears that travelers may prefer other countries in Europe instead of the United Kingdom unless a new runway is built in London. It could be either Heathrow expansion or an alternative development of Gatwick airport. The Cabinet is still considering the issue that is environmentalists’ great concern. The decision is expected in summer 2016 at the earliest.
The idea of expanding Heathrow was first suggested by Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair a decade ago.