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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

UK’s ex-foreign secretary urged to repay Afghan trip cost

Boris Johnson visited Kabul for a few hours to avoid vote on expanding London's Heathrow airport

Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson remains under party investigation for his burka comments. EPA
Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson remains under party investigation for his burka comments. EPA

The UK’s political opposition has called on former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to repay the cost of an impromptu trip to Afghanistan he took in June to avoid voting against the government.

Mr Johnson spent a few hours in Afghanistan on June 25 on the same day that British lawmakers voted on a plan to expand London’s Heathrow airport.

The former minister – who quit two weeks later over Brexit – would have had to resign from government or go back on a promise to constituents that he would do everything to stop the development – including lying in front of bulldozers.

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The cost of taking three staff to Afghanistan was more than £19,000, according to a freedom of information request by The Ferret news site. The Foreign Office declined to give details of the cost of Mr Johnson’s own trip.

John McDonnell, of the opposition Labour party, said that Mr Johnson “scuttled out of the country at the taxpayer’s expense” rather than honouring his promises to oppose the airport scheme and called on him to repay the money spent on the trip.

Mr Johnson quit as minister after opposing Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for Brexit. The charismatic but controversial politician remains a lawmaker and is tipped for a future run to lead the ruling Conservative party.

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