Boris skips first elec­tion de­bate

Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date fails to at­tend

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

Can­di­dates Chris Sum­mers (Labour), Gra­ham Lee (Green), Jack Duf­fin (UKIP) and Mike Cox (Lib Dem) and the chair put out for Tory hope­ful Boris John­son

The Lon­don Mayor, who is the Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date for Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip, skipped the de­bate, on Thurs­day, March 19, as it clashed with a Peo­ple’s Ques­tion Time, which sup­port­ers said he was legally ob­li­gated to at­tend as mayor.

In his ab­sence, his Labour, UKIP, Green Party and Lib­eral Demo­crat ri­vals locked horns on is­sues rang­ing from im­mi­gra­tion to HS2 and Heathrow Air­port’s pro­posed ex­pan­sion.

Labour’s Chris Sum­mers, the Green Party’s Gra­ham Lee and UKIP’s Jack Duf­fin all vowed to vote against HS2 out­right if elected to par­lia­ment in May’s gen­eral elec­tion, while Lib­eral Demo­crat Mike Cox said he sup­ported the project.

Speak­ing af­ter the meet­ing, how­ever, Mr Cox clar­i­fied that, if elected, he would seek to pro­pose amend­ing the HS2 bill such that the rail line would have to by­pass the Hilling­don bor­ough com­pletely.

Dur­ing the 90-minute ses­sion, all four can­di­dates said they would vote against any bill seek­ing to ex­pand Heathrow Air­port.

Ad­dress­ing this topic ear­lier in the meet­ing, how­ever, Mr Sum­mers sug­gested that any fu­ture gov­ern­ment should fol­low what­ever rec­om­men­da­tion is pub­lished in June by the Air­ports Com­mis­sion, which has been tasked with de­cid­ing whether it would be bet­ter to ex­pand Heathrow Air­port or Gatwick Air­port.

Mr Sum­mers, who dur­ing the course of the evening also said MPs who failed to vote on the is­sue as they promised to should have to re­sign, said: “I think it is right we have this Davies Com­mis­sion that is look­ing into the is­sue.

“I think there is some­thing to be ar­gued that they are the ex­perts, and if they rec­om­mend a cer­tain way then it does seem it will be a ba­sic po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion if whichever gov­ern­ment re­jects that, but it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what hap­pens in that re­port in June.”

Mr John­son, who was ‘empty-chaired’ at the de­bate and came un­der fire from all sides, has pre­vi­ously said he would ‘op­pose’ HS2 un­less cer­tain con­di­tions are met.

Th­ese, he has said, would in­clude en­sur­ing the track fol­lows a tun­nel un­der­neath Ruis­lip and Hare­field, as well as cre­at­ing a ‘suit­able’ link to the ex­ist­ing HS1 line, which joins Lon­don to the Chan­nel Tun­nel.

The Lon­don mayor has said build­ing a third run­way at Heathrow Air­port would be a ‘dis­as­ter’, but has never ex­plic­itly promised to vote against it, or the al­ter­na­tive Heathrow Hub op­tion, given the op­por­tu­nity.

Pre­vi­ously he had sug­gested de­mol­ish­ing the air­port com­pletely, be­fore his hopes for build­ing a ‘Boris Is­land’ hub on the Thames Es­tu­ary were dashed.

Mr John­son is booked to at­tend the next hus­tings, tak­ing place at St Mar­garet’s Church, in Wind­sor Street, Uxbridge, on April 10, but will not at­tend the third and fi­nal de­bate, to be held at Yiewsley Bap­tist Church, in Col­ham Av­enue, on April 26.

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