Boris skips first election debate
Conservative candidate fails to attend
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.