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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Inside a shaken city: "I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester”

The morning after the bombing of the Manchester Arena has left the city's residents jumpy.

On Tuesday morning, the streets in Manchester city centre were eerily silent.

The commuter hub of Victoria Station - which backs onto the arena - was closed as police combed the area for clues, and despite Mayor Andy Burnham’s line of "business as usual", it looked like people were staying away.

Manchester Arena is the second largest indoor concert venue in Europe. With a capacity crowd of 18,000, on Monday night the venue was packed with young people from around the country - at least 22 of whom will never come home. At around 10.33pm, a suicide bomber detonated his device near the exit. Among the dead was an eight-year-old girl. Many more victims remain in hospital. 

Those Mancunians who were not alerted by the sirens woke to the news of their city's worst terrorist attack. Still, as the day went on, the city’s hubbub soon returned and, by lunchtime, there were shoppers and workers milling around Exchange Square and the town hall.

Tourists snapped images of the Albert Square building in the sunshine, and some even asked police for photographs like any other day.

But throughout the morning there were rumours and speculation about further incidents - the Arndale Centre was closed for a period after 11.40am while swathes of police descended, shutting off the main city centre thoroughfare of Market Street.

Corporation Street - closed off at Exchange Square - was at the centre of the city’s IRA blast. A postbox which survived the 1996 bombing stood in the foreground while officers stood guard, police tape fluttering around cordoned-off spaces.

It’s true that the streets of Manchester have known horror before, but not like this.

I spoke to students Beth and Melissa who were in the bustling centre when they saw people running from two different directions.

They vanished and ducked into River Island, when an alert came over the tannoy, and a staff member herded them through the back door onto the street.

“There were so many police stood outside the Arndale, it was so frightening,” Melissa told me.

“We thought it will be fine, it’ll be safe after last night. There were police everywhere walking in, and we felt like it would be fine.”

Beth said that they had planned a day of shopping, and weren’t put off by the attack.

“We heard about the arena this morning but we decided to come into the city, we were watching it all these morning, but you can’t let this stop you.”

They remembered the 1996 Arndale bombing, but added: “we were too young to really understand”.

And even now they’re older, they still did not really understand what had happened to the city.

“Theres nowhere to go, where’s safe? I just want to go home,” Melissa said. “I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester.”

Manchester has seen this sort of thing before - but so long ago that the stunned city dwellers are at a loss. In a city which feels under siege, no one is quite sure how anyone can keep us safe from an unknown threat

“We saw armed police on the streets - there were loads just then," Melissa said. "I trust them to keep us safe.”

But other observers were less comforted by the sign of firearms.

Ben, who I encountered standing outside an office block on Corporation Street watching the police, was not too forthcoming, except to say “They don’t know what they’re looking for, do they?” as I passed.

The spirit of the city is often invoked, and ahead of a vigil tonight in Albert Square, there will be solidarity and strength from the capital of the North.

But the community values which Mancunians hold dear are shaken to the core by what has happened here.

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