Heathrow expansion vital for UK economy says Labour MP

Pic: Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. Credit: Curt Smith

Pic: Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. Credit: Curt Smith

Poplar and Limehouse Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick has spoken out against his Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to the potential expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Labour could firmly oppose the plans to grow what is already the UK’s busiest airport, with Corbyn being a vocal critic during his leadership campaign, but Fitzpatrick believes the proposed additional third runway will allow the nation’s businesses to remain competitive in the global market.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has also said he would remain an opponent of the Heathrow expansion, even if Labour did back it, and Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is equally against the proposal.

Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick insists the plans remain a big issue that still have to be thrashed out.

“The majority of the Labour Party previously, the Shadow Cabinet and the unions all supported aviation capacity expansion in the south-east,” he told EastLondonLines.

“Sadiq Khan doesn’t, Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t, John McDonnell doesn’t, but that does not mean the policy is not right.”

Fitzpatrick has also called on David Cameron to back the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

He was one of a number of east London Labour MPs to have signed a letter to the Prime Minister that warned without the additional third runway the country will “fall behind”.

“The Airports Commission has produced the most rigorous assessment of London’s aviation needs for a generation,” the letter read.

“The process has led to a new and better plan from Heathrow.

“It is a plan that supports the opportunity of East London and the aspirations of East Londoners.

“It now falls to the Government to get on with it – or see our great city fall behind.”

The Airports Commission backed a third Heathrow runway in July and Heathrow Airport has said the expansion will create 40,000 new jobs in London, and up to 180,000 jobs and £211 billion of economic growth in the country.

Fitzpatrick believes the proposed expansion, if approved, will help bring the UK into line with its global competitors, and not before time.

“The UK needs aviation capacity, especially in the south-east,” he explained.

“We haven’t had new capacity built for 50 years.

“All of our international competitors, Madrid, Dubai, Istanbul, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, they’ve all got four or six runway airports and have added over the last decade or so and we are falling behind.

“For British businesses to compete in the world market we need connectivity to Brazil, India, China and the rest and if we don’t get that extra capacity all the economic experts say we will continue to fall behind.”

Cameron has promised to make a decision by the end of the year.

However, Fitzpatrick is sceptical a decision will be made at all in the near future, particularly as Zac Goldsmith, favourite to be selected as the Conservative London Mayoral candidate, has threated a by-election if the Government approves the additional capacity for Heathrow.

“David Cameron and George Osborne have been sitting on this for the best part of five years,” Fitzpatrick added.

“They were opposed to it in 2009 and 2010 at the general election and they changed their minds when they got into power and they’ve still not yet made a decision on it.

“The quicker they do that the better.

“However I think the Government will fudge the question until after next year’s London Mayor election.

“They’ll kick it into the long grass and they won’t make a decision.”

Leave a Reply