18:50 GMT05 December 2020
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    Earlier this year, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged to "lie down in front of bulldozers" in order to prevent a new runway from being built at Heathrow Airport.

    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.

    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."

    READ MORE: As Heathrow Expanded, Will Boris Johnson 'Lie Down In Front of Bulldozers'?

    "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."

    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.

    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.

    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.


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