Boris Johnson speaks at Bloomberg's London HQ yesterday. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Will Boris change his stance on Heathrow if he stands for Uxbridge?

The airport, which the Mayor has demanded be closed, is one of the biggest local employers.

After Boris Johnson's announcement that he intends to stand for a seat next year, Uxbridge and South Ruislip has been swiftly installed as the favourite. The Mayor's team have already held talks with the local Conservative association, which selects its candidate on 13 September. 

It's easy to see why the constituency appeals to Johnson: it's in London (putting him within easy reach of City Hall), the Tories currently have a majority of 11,216, and the outgoing MP, John Randall, has endorsed him, declaring that he would "reach parts of the electorate that I can't reach". 

There's just one hitch: Heathrow. The airport is one of the area's biggest employers, but, rather inconveniently, Johnson has called for it to be closed down. (To make way for "Boris island" in the Thames estuary.) He said last year:

Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us and putting themselves in a position to eat London's breakfast, lunch and dinner by constructing mega airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of.

Those cities have moved heaven and earth to locate their airports away from their major centres of population, in areas where they have been able to build airports with four runways or more. For London and the wider UK to remain competitive we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth. Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow, which already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, is quite simply crackers.

Unsurprisingly, this stance hasn't gone unnoticed by residents. Mike Appleton of the Back Heathrow campaign told LBC: "The people of west London are quite worried about Boris's plans to shut down a major local employer and a major centre of business.

"Thousands of people in the area rely on Heathrow Airport. But not just those people who work there directly, but the businesses who rely on the airport, like logistics companies and taxi firms, who are very concerned by his plans." 

So will Johnson simply change his position? (As he has so many other times.) Perhaps. The Mayor has long been a Marxist of the Groucho variety: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them ... well, I have others." Should the Davies Commission reject Boris island in its next interim report (as seems almost certain), he will have the cover he needs to retreat. But such is the force with which Johnson has campaigned against a third Heathrow runway that this could be a U-turn too far. How the Mayor behaves will be an early test of his ability to cope with the new constraints he will face. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Jeremy Corbyn challenged by Labour MPs to sack Ken Livingstone from defence review

Former mayor of London criticised at PLP meeting over comments on 7 July bombings. 

After Jeremy Corbyn's decision to give Labour MPs a free vote over air strikes in Syria, tonight's Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting was less fractious than it could have been. But one grandee was still moved to declare that the "ferocity" of the attacks on the leader made it the most "uplifting" he had attended.

Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, told the meeting: "We cannot unite the party if the leader's office is determined to divide us." Several MPs said afterwards that many of those who shared Corbyn's opposition to air strikes believed he had mishandled the process by appealing to MPs over the heads of the shadow cabinet and then to members. David Winnick declared that those who favoured military action faced a "shakedown" and deselection by Momentum activists. "It is completely unacceptable. They are a party within a party," he said of the Corbyn-aligned group. The "huge applause" for Hilary Benn, who favours intervention, far outweighed that for the leader, I'm told. 

There was also loud agreement when Jack Dromey condemned Ken Livingstone for blaming Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq for the 7 July 2005 bombings. Along with Angela Smith MP, Dromey demanded that Livingstone be sacked as the co-chair of Labour's defence review. Significantly, Benn said aftewards that he agreed with every word Dromey had said. Corbyn's office has previously said that it is up to the NEC, not the leader, whether the former London mayor holds the position. In reference to 7 July, an aide repeated Corbyn's statement that he preferred to "remember the brilliant words Ken used after 7/7". 

As on previous occasions, MPs complained that the leader failed to answer the questions that were put to him. A shadow minister told me that he "dodged" one on whether he believed the UK should end air strikes against Isis in Iraq. In reference to Syria, a Corbyn aide said afterwards that "There was significant support for the leader. There was a wide debate, with people speaking on both sides of the arguments." After David Cameron's decision to call a vote on air strikes for Wednesday, leaving only a day for debate, the number of Labour MPs backing intervention is likely to fall. One shadow minister told me that as few as 40-50 may back the government, though most expect the total to be closer to the original figure of 99. 

At the end of another remarkable day in Labour's history, a Corbyn aide concluded: "It was always going to be a bumpy ride when you have a leader who was elected by a large number outside parliament but whose support in the PLP is quite limited. There are a small number who find it hard to come to terms with that result."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.