London mayor Boris Johnson piled extra pressure on the government yesterday, urging it to reject the Airports Commission’s recommendation to expand Heathrow, as Prime Minister David Cameron said he would give him a Cabinet post as soon as next year.
In his speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Johnson warned: “If we are going to build new airport capacity, let’s not bodge it with one runway in the wrong place in a short-termist and environmentally disastrous solution.”
Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge, has long opposed Heathrow expansion in favour of a new airport in the Thames Estuary, the so-called Boris Island.
The government has not indicated whether it will back the commission’s recommendation, but a decision is expected before Christmas.
Meanwhile, Cameron told the BBC yesterday that he would “definitely” give Johnson a ministerial job after he steps down as mayor next year.
“I want to have the big figures in my team,” Cameron said. “That’s why I’m looking forward to Boris finishing his time as mayor and coming into my team in Number 10.”
Cameron’s comments provided a surprising boost of support for Johnson, who used his conference speech to distance himself from multiple government policies.
Prodding at the Prime Minister’s “big society” pledge, Johnson said in his speech that the country needs “not just a big society, but a united society, where the different elements are bound together by an irreducible set of values, democracy and freedom and equality under the law”.
And in thinly veiled criticism of the Prime Minister’s refusal to reconsider the government’s proposed cuts to tax credits, Johnson said that the Conservatives should protect the capital’s “hardest working and lowest paid” and promote “hope and aspiration”.
Johnson, who has voiced eurosceptic views in the past, also said that he was confident in the Prime Minister’s ability to get “the right deal now from our EU partners”.
In a nod to the City, Johnson said that while he is “still just about the only politician to speak out in favour of bankers”, Tories “cannot ignore the gulf in pay packets that yawns wider year by year”.