John McDonnell has joined Conservative rebels against Heathrow’s third runway to attempt to persuade MPs who may still have reservations about the project to vote against it.
The shadow chancellor, a longstanding opponent of expansion, is working with the Tory former transport secretary Justine Greening and the backbench MP Zac Goldsmith, both also firm critics, to try to halt the government’s expansion plan.
At an emergency meeting in the Commons on Tuesday after the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, confirmed that the government would back a third runway, the cross-party group agreed their strategy ahead of the key vote, which is expected to take place in about two weeks’ time.
McDonnell has highlighted the potential multimillion-pound cost to the taxpayer in the event that the government, including any future Labour administration, should change its mind on expansion.
In a letter to Grayling, he raised concerns over how much, if any, of the £14bn project would be publicly subsidised if Heathrow’s plans for a third runway did not proceed.
McDonnell wrote: “There appears to be no end date to this agreement. This means that taxpayers could be left picking up a bill of multiple millions of pounds if the government does not proceed with developing the Heathrow north-west runway scheme.
“I am extremely concerned that through this agreement the government has tied itself into a considerable liability that could fall upon the taxpayers’ shoulders and preempts the decision of parliament on this matter.”
The senior Labour MP, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency includes Heathrow, asked the Department for Transport to reveal whether it had made any assessment of the financial liabilities that taxpayers could be exposed to.
The DfT signed a cost recovery clause with Heathrow in 2016 in its statement of principles, which said the airport would...
JOHN McDONNELL told civil servants today that Labour is “preparing for power” and “translating” the party’s 2017 general election manifesto into policy and plans for legislation.
Addressing the conference of their PCS union in Brighton, the shadow chancellor said Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was “clinging” to office.
Though he admitted having no idea when the next election could be, Mr McDonnell assured delegates that Labour is ready to change Britain.
“We are translating every part of the manifesto into an action plan and plotting the implementation of legislation,” he said.
Mr McDonnell told PCS – which is not affiliated to Labour – that “the trade union movement is coming into government with us.
“No longer will we tolerate what happened in the recent past, when some in the Labour Party saw the trade union movement as some form of embarrassing relative.
“It is the trade unions who founded the Labour Party and it is the trade unions who will support us when we implement that manifesto.”
Mr McDonnell, who is a member of the PCS parliamentary group, discussed the Civil Service pay crisis, promising members that a Labour government would properly staff HMRC at the national and local levels.
“By using an effective and properly resourced HMRC, we shall ensure the super-rich pay their proper taxes," he said.
“We shall stop tax evasion on a national scale, so that we can save the NHS, build a national education service and scrap the tuition fees that are burdening our children.”
Mr McDonnell committed Labour to scrapping the private finance initiative and outsourcing, and also vowed that the public-sector pay cap would be scrapped to ensure workers receive a decent income.
Labour’s support for any PCS strikes was also emphasised, with Mr McDonnell saying that “to...
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