Pro­test­ers stage hunger strike at Labour Party of­fices

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - QASIM PERACHA

A GROUP of 35 anti-Heathrow ex­pan­sion pro­test­ers staged a hunger strike out­side the of­fices of the Labour Party.

The des­per­ate pro­test­ers are ask­ing for the party to in­struct its MPs to vote against the ex­pan­sion of the air­port when the Com­mons gets the fi­nal say in the com­ing weeks.

At least 12 of the pro­test­ers have vowed to con­tinue their civil dis­obe­di­ence protest in­def­i­nitely, un­til the Labour party im­poses a three-line whip against ex­pan­sion.

The pro­test­ers gath­ered out­side the Vic­to­ria Street head­quar­ters of the Labour party to make their de­mands known on Satur­day.

Some of the hunger strik­ers were wear­ing T-shirts reading ‘Love Labour: Hate Heathrow’ and plac­ards reading ‘Vote No Heathrow’ and ‘Hunger Strike’.

The protest comes after the gov- ern­ment’s long-awaited Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment on Air­ports was pub­lished on Tues­day June 5, and the cab­i­net voted to go ahead with the con­struc­tion of a third runway, north-west of Heathrow’s cur­rent air­field.

The pro­test­ers had also been at the Labour of­fice a day be­fore the an­nounce­ment and some were even ar­rested as po­lice de­scended on the of­fices.

Robin, a 26-year-old Lon­doner who was on the hunger strike, said: “We are tak­ing this dras­tic ac­tion be­cause this month there is a ‘make or break’ vote on Heathrow in Par­lia­ment.

“Every­one needs to tell their MP to vote against this dis­as­trous project. The new runway will ac­cel­er­ate global warm­ing as cli­mate break­down gets cat­a­strophic and bull­doze hun­dreds of homes dur­ing a UK hous­ing cri­sis.”

The runway would stretch over the M25, but would still re­quire homes to be de­stroyed and is likely to cause an in­crease in noise to some res­i­dents cur­rently not af­fected by air­craft noise, op­po­nents say.

The pro­test­ers are con­cerned about the likely im­pact of ex­pan­sion to air pol­lu­tion in Lon­don, as well as the need for enhanced in­fras­truc­ture so ad­di­tional traf­fic does not im­pact their abil­ity to get about the city.

The pro­test­ers also sat out­side union build­ings in the cap­i­tal, with Unite, TUC, Com­mu­nity and BALPA all ex­press­ing sup­port for the ex­pan­sion project.

A three-line whip is the strong­est in­di­ca­tion a party can give to its MPs on how to vote in Par­lia­ment.

If a Labour MP de­fies the three­line whip there can be con­se­quences such as be­ing re­moved from posts.

The Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment is ex­pected to im­pose a three-line whip in favour of the air­port’s ex­pan­sion, which may cause prob­lems for For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son.

The Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip MP fa­mously promised to “lie down with you in front of those bull­doz­ers and stop the build­ing, stop the con­struc­tion of that third runway”, speak­ing to pro­test­ers.

As a vo­cal op­po­nent of the third runway, he could face having to re­sign his se­nior cab­i­net post over the is­sue, as con­ven­tion dic­tates any cab­i­net min­is­ter must re­sign be­fore vot­ing against the govern­ment on a three-line whip.

Alex Thomp­son, a spokesper­son for Vote No Heathrow, said: “A new runway will ac­cel­er­ate cat­a­strophic cli­mate break­down, killing mil­lions around the world.

“Those who stand to gain from the new runway are lim­ited to a wealthy mi­nor­ity of fre­quent fly­ers; the rest will suf­fer a dev­as­tated cli­mate, bull­dozed lo­cal homes and even more toxic air.

“All pro­gres­sive MPs must op­pose ex­pan­sion of Heathrow.

“We are call­ing on MPs and in­flu­en­tial unions like Unite to look at the big­ger pic­ture.

“Cli­mate break­down is be­ing driven by wealthy peo­ple who fly, and the im­pacts are hit­ting poorer peo­ple first and, worst, who do not fly.

“We want a sta­ble planet with sta­ble work, not a bro­ken planet with inse­cure work – that starts with op­pos­ing Heathrow ex­pan­sion.”

On an­nounc­ing the cab­i­net’s de­ci­sion to back the third runway, Transport Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling said: “To­day I am lay­ing be­fore Par­lia­ment our fi­nal pro­posal for an Air­ports Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment (NPS) which sig­nals our com­mit­ment to se­cur­ing global con­nec­tiv­ity, cre­at­ing tens of thou­sands of lo­cal jobs and ap­pren­tice­ships, and boost­ing our econ­omy for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions by ex­pand­ing Heathrow Air­port.”

He added: “My depart­ment has met with lo­cal res­i­dents and fully un­der­stands their strength of feeling, but this is a de­ci­sion taken in the na­tional in­ter­est and based on de­tailed ev­i­dence.”

Some pro­test­ers were ar­rested after an ear­lier demon­stra­tion

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