More Pain for Corbyn as U.K. Labour MPs Go Round Him on Heathrow

(Bloomberg) -- Lawmakers in Britain’s opposition Labour Party turned to Theresa May’s Conservative government for a briefing on the Heathrow airport expansion, potentially opening up yet another split with leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In a highly unusual move, the backbench Labour Transport Committee invited party lawmakers to hear on Wednesday from aviation minister Liz Sugg and John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, about the government’s plan for a third runway at the airport. Unite, the trade union whose members would benefit if the plan goes ahead, will also be represented.

Labour has historically supported an expansion of London’s main airport, though Corbyn’s team has refused to commit to it. There’s a potential opportunity to defeat the government if enough of May’s party rebel, while Corbyn’s closest ally and finance spokesman, John McDonnell, represents a district close to the airport and is “implacably opposed.”

It’s another potential headache for Corbyn, who has a difficult relationship with his parliamentary party -- who passed a vote of no-confidence in him two years ago. The socialist leader hasn’t won over his critics even after a better-than-expected performance in the 2017 general election. Some of them told Bloomberg privately that they are thinking of quitting over their differences.

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“This is an issue of national interest, and vital importance,” Labour Transport Committee chair Gavin Shuker said. “With no clear steer from the leadership of the party on this, it’s right the government have their chance to put their case -- and have their logic tested by Labour MPs.”

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