BORIS Johnson yesterday refused to rule out standing in a parliamentary by-election if the government backs a third runway at Heathrow.
Asked whether he was willing to campaign on the issue within the House of Commons, the Mayor told the BBC: “My job is to follow the interests of the people of London.”
His comments came as Prime Minister David Cameron joined Labour’s Ed Miliband in backing an independent commission into airport capacity to be led by Sir Howard Davies, the former head of the Financial Services Authority.
Despite a pledge to fast-track infrastructure measures to promote growth, Davies may not publish his final report until 2015, postponing the decision until after the next general election.
Cameron is stuck in a political bind as he opposed a third runway in the 2010 Conservative manifesto and has at least two more years in coalition with the Lib Dems, who have promised to block any development.
Johnson said the proposal was a “fudgerama” and said he would lead the campaign against expansion of the west London airport.
“If a commission were not to report until after the next election we’d have lost a huge amount of time. I don’t think British business would be remotely satisfied with that answer.”
Yesterday Cameron told the House of Commons: “While I believe that we need to establish a form of review that will bring parties together and make a decision about airport capacity, I will not break my manifesto pledge.”
But transferring responsibility for the decision to an outsider would make it easier to justify a policy U-turn in the future. In addition, the decision to move Justine Greening, a noted opponent of Heathrow expansion, from transport secretary in this week’s reshuffle removes one of the main political barriers to change.
London Chamber of Commerce chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: “The last thing we need is another two and half years talking with no action. While this government has dithered business has suffered.”