UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been harshly criticized and urged to step down over his decision to dodge Monday's crucial vote on the expansion of Heathrow Airport, opting to fly to Afghanistan on an official visit instead.
Tory MP Robert Halfon pointed out that Johnson standing down "would be a good thing."
"I think he'd be quite respected by the constituents but individual MPs will make that judgment," he said.
Productive discussions with President Ghani & Chief Executive Abdullah in #Afghanistan. I welcomed their determined recent efforts towards a political process with the Taliban & urge all countries with influence in #Afghanistan to engage constructively at this crucial moment. pic.twitter.com/Gx1krMJLcE— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) 25 июня 2018 г.
Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, for his part, expressed surprise at Johnson's move, recalling that "his constituency is very, very near to Heathrow, and he has in the past made very strong statements against Heathrow, and, indeed, once he promised to lie down in front of a bulldozer."
"If he is unable to be present, then we have to ask the question, 'what on Earth is he doing and who is he representing?' And his chaos and confusion surrounding the EU negotiations and constant differences of opinion with the government, you really ask the question, why is he still there?" Corbyn noted.
His view was shared by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, who said that despite the fact that Johnson prefers to call other politicians "invertebrate jellies," his decision to flee the country rather than deliver on his previous promises on Heathrow "shows him to be the most spineless of all."
"On this issue, he has proven himself utterly devoid of courage, strength, or principle," Thornberry stressed.
Former Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening, in turn, tweeted that he "wouldn't want any long-term MP campaigners against Heathrow expansion to miss their chance to represent their community."
So Boris Johnson has fled the Tory party for Afghanistan. Ravaged by years of civil war and conflict, the Tory party is a terrible place to be right now.— David Schneider (@davidschneider) 25 июня 2018 г.
I hope you see what I did there.
After being elected for his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat, Johnson promised his supporters to "lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway."
Earlier this year, the British government agreed on the $18.5 billion plan to add a third runway at Heathrow, which they claimed could add to boosting the country's economy.
Why was Boris Johnson’s trip to Afghanistan on the same day as the Heathrow vote in the interests of the UK? That’s right. It wasn’t. You know he’s a sly, self-interested twat at the best of times.— Garrie Coleman (@garrie_coleman) 26 июня 2018 г.
Among arguments against the Heathrow expansion are concerns by many MPs who specifically cited the impact of noise and pollution on a densely populated area.
Imagine how annoyed Boris Johnson was when he found out he couldn’t fly back from Afghanistan in time to vote against the third runway at Heathrow because there weren’t enough landing slots at Heathrow…— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) 25 июня 2018 г.
Last week, EU diplomats berated Johnson for reportedly saying "f**k business" when answering a question posed by Belgium's ambassador to the EU Rudolf Huygelen about some business leaders' post-Brexit concerns.