A trip by to Afghanistan on the day of the government’s key vote on Heathrow expansion cost taxpayers nearly £20,000, official figures have revealed.
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The Foreign Office, in response to a freedom of information request from Scottish website , said the cost of flights and visas for the three members of staff who accompanied the then foreign secretary on his trip was £19,366.
There were no hotel costs, as the visit lasted only one day. While in Afghanistan, Johnson met the president, , and had lunch with the deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Karzai.
The government refused to disclose the cost of sending Johnson on the visit, saying the information would be published “in due course” on the Foreign Office’s website.
Johnson was widely criticised for , having once promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers to prevent a third runway being built at the airport, close to his Uxbridge constituency in west London.
The government comfortably won the Heathrow vote, on 26 June, by 415 votes to 119 – a majority of 296. MPs were allowed a free vote.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said Johnson had “scuttled out of the country at the taxpayer’s expense rather than honouring his promise to his constituents”.
Referring to the £275,000 per annum Johnson has reportedly been paid for his column in the Daily Telegraph, McDonnell added: “Perhaps our former foreign secretary will consider using some of the money he earns insulting Muslim women with his lucrative £20,000-plus a month column to pay back the taxpayer.”
Johnson ignited a furious row earlier this month with a column comparing women who wear burqas to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”, but has declined to apologise, despite .
Greg Hands, another senior Conservative with a London constituency, resigned as a trade minister so that he could honour a promise to his constituents that he would vote against the government’s Heathrow plans.
Johnson after deciding he could not support the Brexit compromise agreed by Theresa May’s cabinet at Chequers.
He had initially signed up to the plans, but stepped down after the secretary David Davis resigned. Johnson, in his resignation letter, said the Chequers plan, with its “common rulebook” for goods and food, would reduce Britain to “the status of a colony”.
He has not called for the prime minister’s resignation; but Johnson has been widely tipped as a potential future leadership contender if May fails to secure the backing of her party for the Chequers deal.
Some senior Conservatives, including the former attorney-general , have said they could not remain members of the party if Johnson became leader.