POLITICS
25/06/2018 14:39 BST | Updated 25/06/2018 17:11 BST

Boris Johnson Uses Trip To Afghanistan To Dodge Vote On Heathrow Expansion

Mystery solved.

The mystery of where Boris Johnson vanished to has been solved.

He is in Afghanistan.

On Monday afternoon the official Twitter account of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted pictures of Johnson meeting with their Deputy Foreign Minister.

Johnson has been allowed to skip out of the UK in order to conveniently avoid having to resign as foreign secretary, or go back on his promise to oppose the expansion of Heathrow when MPs vote this evening.

Theresa May has ordered all her MPs to vote in favour of a third runway.

But Johnson, who once said he would lie down in front of bulldozers to prevent construction, was allowed by the prime minister to avoid having to make a decision.

To escape the vote, due around 10pm, the foreign secretary needed to be far enough from London during the day to not be able to make it back in time.

However he had to be close enough to get back for Foreign Office questions in the Commons at 11.30am tomorrow.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said Johnson was there to “show support for recent positive developments in Afghanistan”.

He said: “At this important moment when Afghan-led efforts towards peace and a political settlement have gained considerable impetus, I was proud and inspired to be in Kabul to see how the UK is working in support of the Afghan Government to achieve this goal.”

No mention was made of Heathrow.

The department had initially refused to say where Johnson was.

His Cabinet colleagues appeared, at least in public, to be none the wiser. 

“I have no idea where Boris is,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC this morning.

Tory MPs were also unimpressed. 

Greg Hands, who quit as trade minister to vote against the expansion, took a swipe at Johnson for not doing the same.

Robert Halfon, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme that Johnson should have quit rather than run away.

“I think that would be a good thing,” Halfon said. “He would be respected.”

Senior backbencher Sarah Wollaston said of the foreign secretary: “Being conveniently out of the country I’m afraid won’t wash.”

Johnson defended his decision to avoid having to quit. “My resignation would have achieved absolutely nothing,” he told the Evening Standard this morning as people hunted for him.

The Uxbridge Labour Party, Johnson’s constituency, also had fun at his expense.