Snap Election approved by MPs
On 19th April, MPs approved a motion by 522 votes to 13 to call a snap General Election. The vote was needed to bring forward the election from 2020. So we'll be back in the polling stations electing MPs on Thursday, 8th June.
We have yet to discover the full impact of this election on the campaign to stop the third runway at Heathrow but it seems inevitable that one consequence will be a shift in the timeline. We will all have to wait a bit longer to get rid of the third runway proposals for good.
Our supportive MPs, who have been so busy working with us, will also have valuable time taken up with campaigning to win their seats again. There are also all sorts of complications from suddenly having no MPs in Parliament, particularly during the DfT consultation on the Draft Airports National Policy Statement.
We are supposed to believe that the consultation will be "full and fair" but calling a sudden General Election in the middle makes that a joke. Last month many organisations and individuals submitted evidence to the Transport Select Committee. Witnesses had already been selected to raise their issues and answer the committee's questions. This could enlighten MPs who would have a vote on the runway early next year. Now there are no MPs so there is no committee. By the time the election is over and the committee gets the chance to speak to witness, the consultation would be over.
If the government wants a "full and fair" consultation it should be suspended.
There is an upside to the calling of a General Election - pro-runway George Osborne has decided not to stand. After all he has said about having plenty of time for a number of paid positions, he has decided to quit being an MP in order to do a decent job of being Editor of The Evening Standard.
When asked about his legacy in politics, Osborne said he wanted to be remembered as "Someone who left Britain in a better shape than I found it." It will be interesting to see if he uses his position on the London newspaper to challenge the government's inability to tackle air pollution.
He's likely to discover that The Evening Standard readership do not want more aircraft noise and more toxic pollution that already kills 9,000 Londoners prematurely every year. They don't want another runway at Heathrow or the terrible impact it will have on everything from roads and rail to the NHS.
In a BBC report on Osborne's decision not to seek re-election, Nick Clegg noted that "He loved the game of politics."
How charming that Osborne sees destroying our homes as part of a game. Currently it isn't going his way (he hates being an EX-Chancellor) so he doesn't want to play right now. Instead it's likely he's going to fight his political enemies on the pages of a daily paper.