A trip taken by former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the day of a vote on expanding Heathrow Airport has cost taxpayers at least £20,000.
Mr Johnson was widely condemned after he dodged the crucial vote after long term opposition to expansion – including promising constituents he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers”.
Labour has called on the former foreign secretary to pay the cash back after it was revealed the last-minute trip cost taxpayers at least £19,366.
Mr Johnson, who represents the West London constituency of Uxbridge and Hillingdon, would have had to resign from the Government to vote against the plan after the Tories imposed a three-line whip.
But after seeming to disappear on the day of the decision, he made a last-minute trip to Afghanistan.
And his whereabouts was only revealed after Afghanistan’s deputy Foreign Minister, Hekmat Karzai tweeted a photo of their meeting.
Following an FOI request by Scottish site the Ferret , the Foreign and Commonwealth Office revealed it had paid £19,366 to cover costs for three staff members accompanying Mr Johnson.
But it refused to reveal the additional costs for travel and security for the former cabinet minister.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who also represents a West London seat, said the former Foreign Secrerary had “scuttled out of the country at the taxpayer’s expense rather than honouring his promise to constituents”.
Mr McDonnell, whose Hillingdon constituency includes Heathrow, has called on Mr Johnson to repay the bill from the money he makes from his weekly Telegraph column – reportedly £275,000 a year.
“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,” he said.
The Government won the vote on expanding the airport by 415 votes to 199.
When asked to explain the decision to leave the country, saying: “My resignation would have achieved absolutely nothing.”
But it was a slap in the face for former trade minister Greg Hands who resigned from the Government to vote against expansion.
The Chelsea and Fulham MP had promised constituents he would oppose the new runway at the 2017 election.