Anti-Corbyn Labour backbenchers plan party vote – to back Heathrow runway

The Parliamentary Labour Party has various committees, one of which is on Transport. This is chaired by the young MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker. The membership of this backbench committee does not appear to be publicly available. There is nothing online about the committee or its work.  Mr Shuker says his committee has now produced (or is about to produce) a report that proposes Labour should back a Heathrow runway. They plan to present this report to a meeting of Labour MPs and peers, when Parliament returns after the party conferences. Mr Shuker has been critical of Jeremy Corbyn for the past year or more, and he now wants to get the Labour party to reverse his opposition to a Heathrow runway by getting a vote on the issue within the party. Gavin Shuker said the vote could be the day after the Labour meeting.  As well as Jeremy Corbyn, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, is deeply opposed to a Heathrow runway as his constituency would be badly affected by it.  Mr Shuker wants the party to challenge Jeremy Corbyn on a number of policy issues. Heathrow is just one of many, and is a symptom of party disunity. On the same day, it was revealed that the Heathrow-funded and sponsored group, Back Heathrow, had asked for John McDonnell’s constituency boundary to be redrawn, to exclude Heathrow – to help their case. Amazing.


Labour MPs plan their own Heathrow vote

Labour backbenchers intend to seek control of the party’s aviation policy with their own vote on a third runway at Heathrow.

They plan to present a report on Heathrow to a meeting of Labour MPs and peers when Parliament returns.

The chair of Labour’s backbench transport committee Gavin Shuker said MPs were “deeply frustrated” about a lack of leadership on key policies.

He said the report’s conclusions could go to a vote the day after the meeting.

The committee’s conclusions are thought to fly in the teeth of the views of shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who as a west London MP has long fought Heathrow expansion.

‘Clear position’

Mr Shuker told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “On a number of key issues on Syria on Trident and otherwise we have dodged the question the British people have put to us about where we stand.

“You can’t just keep on going through the process of free votes and abstentions.

“People don’t know what we stand for and if there isn’t going to be clear leadership on these issues I don’t think anyone should be surprised that within the rules of the Labour Party we’re going to utilise those to make sure that we have a clear position.”

Labour has committees of backbenchers shadowing each of the government departments. They are largely chaired by MPs sceptical about Jeremy Corbyn.

It is understood their heads met the chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party John Cryer on Sunday and told him they intended to start moving motions and reports. They have taken part in two events at Labour’s conference fringe.

‘Alternative shadow cabinet’

Mr Shuker said: “I would be surprised over the coming year unless there is a significant change in the way in which we’ve been led that other chairs won’t seek to move their own motions off the back of reports that they right.”

One former cabinet minister told the Today programme that the chairs of backbench committees could mirror, and outperform, shadow ministers, forming “an alternative shadow cabinet”.

They would be used by opponents of Mr Corbyn to demonstrate competence and attack the government rather than the leadership.

A vote on a backbench report would require the agreement of a separate Labour committee.

Some of those leading the backbench committees are enthusiastic about challenging the leadership and want to see similar initiatives, while others are much more cautious.


Labour MPs will try to sidestep Jeremy Corbyn to back Heathrow third runway

Pro-expansion MPs frustrated by silence from party leader and his shadow Chancellor 

By Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor (Independent)


Labour has failed to set out a clear policy on Heathrow expansion, party MPs say

They will call a vote of all Labour MPs and peers on an aviation report drawn up by a group of backbenchers who sit on the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) transport committee.

The report is said to endorse a third runway, ahead of the long-delayed Government announcement on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick, expected within weeks.

Gavin Shuker, the Luton South MP who chairs the transport committee, said he was deeply frustrated by Mr Corbyn’s failure to set out Labour’s position.

If the tactic of forcing the vote works, it could be copied on other key policy areas, when reports are completed by the Labour committees shadowing other government departments.

Mr Shuker told the BBC: “On a number of key issues, on Syria, on Trident and otherwise, we have dodged the question the people have put to us about where we stand.

“You can’t just keep on going through the process of free votes and abstentions.

“People don’t know what we stand for and, if there isn’t going to be clear leadership on these issues, I don’t think that anyone should be surprised that – within the rules of the Labour party – we’re going to utilise those to make sure that we have a clear position.”

Most of the PLP committees are chaired by anti-Corbyn MPs, including former frontbenchers Chris Leslie, Caroline Flint, Tristram Hunt, John Woodcock and Emma Reynolds.

This month, it emerged that the Prime Minister Theresa May could seek to resolve her Heathrow headache through a “potential waiving of collective responsibility” – a free vote for her MPs.

Cabinet big-hitters Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Education Secretary Justine Greening are among fierce opponents of expanding Heathrow.

Last year, the Davies Commission recommended the building of a third runway at Heathrow, but the Government announced further investigation into noise, pollution and compensation before a decision.

David Cameron was expected to announce which project would get the go-ahead after the EU referendum, but his resignation following the Brexit victory has left the decision for his successor, Mrs May.

Labour MPs and peers meet every Monday evening when Parliament is sitting, making it possible that the Heathrow vote will be staged before that Government announcement.


John McDonnell constituency ‘should be redrawn to exclude Heathrow Airport’ say runway campaigners

28.9.2016 (Standard)
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s west London constituency should be redrawn so it no longer includes Heathrow Airport, backers of a third runway said today.

The pro-expansion Back Heathrow group has written to the Boundary Commission, which is reviewing the parliamentary map, to suggest that Hayes and Harlington be split up.

It claims Mr McDonnell, one of the most vociferous opponents of expansion, cannot properly represent his constituents as many of them rely on the airport for their livelihood.

However, the call opens the group up to charges of gerrymandering. If the Government goes ahead with plans for a third runway, the project’s development would be much smoother with a pro-expansion MP in place.

Tory-run Hillingdon council, backed by Mr McDonnell whose seat is in the borough, has threatened legal action against a third runway if the Government backs expansion.

Back Heathrow’s Rob Gray said: “If John McDonnell doesn’t value Heathrow there are plenty of MPs and local authorities who would be happy to feel the benefit of the UK’s largest single-site employer in their electoral areas.”



Gavin Shuker steps back from Labour frontbench due to political differences with Jeremy Corbyn