Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union and a major Labour Party donor, has written to all Labour MPs urging them to vote in favour of the third runway expansion at Heathrow today.
Unite represents 34,000 workers at Heathrow and has been a major lobbying force behind the expansion. McCluskey told Labour MPs they had “the opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs” and encouraged them to “make a historic and positive difference to the lives of Unite members, their sons and daughters, and generations to come.”
This places him at odds with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who opposes the expansion on the basis that it fails Labour’s four tests for capacity, carbon dioxide levels, noise pollution and regional benefits for the rest of the UK beyond London and the South East. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, in whose Hayes and Harlington constituency Heathrow is based, also strongly opposes the expansion.
However, unlike the Tory party, which is imposing a three-line whip, Labour MPs will have a free vote. Over 100 Labour MPs have already indicated that they will be voting in favour of the expansion.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson is among the Tories who oppose the third runway, but he will be out of the country—his destination not specified—during the vote.
Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth, 350.org and Vote no Heathrow oppose the expansion, calling it “morally reprehensible”.
Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, recently told The Guardian, “We know aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; we know emissions at altitude are a lot more damaging to the climate than they are at ground level; we know that if Heathrow expands then it’s almost like an arms race between the different airports across Europe, because they’re all in a fight for passengers. … We’re all being pitted against one another in this incredibly dangerous race to the bottom.”
(Source: The Guardian)