MPs to vote on Heathrow third runway
Members of the UK Parliament (MPs) are scheduled to vote today (25 June) on the proposed third runway for Heathrow Airport.
The Conservative Government has issued a “three-line whip” to its MPs, ordering them to vote in favour of the platform.
The opposition party, Labour, has given its MPs a free vote and a significant number are expected to back the government’s plans, so political pundits expect that the expansion proposal will get the backing it needs.
The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been a prominent opponent of the expansion plan; at one point he even vowed he would lie in front of the bulldozers to stop construction. However, Johnson is currently out of the country and will miss the vote.
The UK Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has described the expansion proposal as “the biggest transport decision in a generation”, adding that “the connections we create through Heathrow will benefit the whole of the UK”.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has been a staunch supporter of the expansion plan and has argued that it is now more important than ever, because of Brexit.
In a statement sent to Post&Parcel yesterday (Sunday, 24 June), James Hookham, FTA’s Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Brexit will provide great opportunities for British business to forge new trading relationships outside the EU. But without an expanding global hub airport, with increased capacity for business, the prospects for trading partnerships to be established by importers and exporters with the new world markets we will need to work with are pretty bleak.
“MPs – whether they advocate leaving the EU or not – need to recognise the importance of being able to fly British goods around the world, from a central hub airport.
“Without the increased flexibility and access that an expanded Heathrow will provide, it will be difficult to diversify our economy away from EU trade and maximise the opportunities which Brexit offers. Our increasing reliance on the on-line, e-commerce ‘I Want It Now’ trading environment is based on efficient air cargo links with the rest of the world – UK suppliers will otherwise not be able to compete effectively with competitors in Asia, North and South America, and beyond.
“The promise of trade deals is not enough – exporters will need the means of reaching these new markets as quickly and reliably as possible if they are to compete on equal terms with local producers. Trucking goods to Paris, Frankfurt or other European airports with the necessary connectivity would be a further handicap to seamless business arrangements, if the expansion of Heathrow is not carried out. Flying direct from the UK has to be the best solution for British business and industry.”
“The logistics industry’s message to MPs is simple – you need to equip the country with the means of trading efficiently in a post-Brexit world. Failure to expand Heathrow will diminish the prospects for Britain’s future trading ambitions. A successful future outside the EU will require self-sufficiency in routes to market – and an expanded Heathrow is the logical decision to give importers and exporters the reassurance they need that Britain is open for business.”