From Heathrow to Brexit, showmen have taken over our politics | Rafael Behr
Boris Johnson, by avoiding the Commons vote, has confirmed his total lack of principle. But in today’s politics, performance is all that matters
• Johnson criticised over decision to miss crunch Heathrow vote
Cowardice is usually perceived as an absence – the lack of courage. But Boris Johnson manages to make it a substance. The foreign secretary is unprinciple incarnate. A brave politician, confronted with a three-line whip in parliament behind a proposition he has pledged to oppose, resigns his ministerial office. That is what Greg Hands, an unassuming trade minister, did last week to be free to vote against a third runway at Heathrow.
Johnson also opposes the runway. He promised to thwart its construction by placing his own body between bulldozer and sod. A lesser coward might keep the ministerial job by obeying the whips and wriggling out of the pledge. Not so the foreign secretary, whose doctrine of cakeism (having baked goods and eating them) is familiar from his Brexit prospectus. True to that creed, Johnson has reaffirmed that he doesn’t want Heathrow expanded, while skipping the vote. His no-show in the Commons is an insult to any MP who has ever agonised over dilemmas of conscience, loyalty and duty.
Related: Heathrow airport: how MPs are likely to vote on the third runway
Source: Guardian Transport
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