Skift Take

... because what Heathrow and other UK airports need right now is a protracted battle over names to go on top of the endless debate about a new runway at Heathrow.

One of the U.K.’s major airports should be renamed to honor former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died four days ago, two lawmakers from her Conservative Party suggested.

Stephen Metcalfe and Eleanor Laing, who represent districts in Essex to the northeast of London, made the proposal in a so- called early-day motion in Parliament this week. Such motions are rarely debated, though other lawmakers can add their signatures to signal support.

Metcalfe and Laing’s proposal calls on the government “to commemorate Baroness Thatcher’s colossal achievements by renaming one of the U.K.’s international airports Thatcher International Airport as an enduring testament to her contribution to the world.”

Thatcher’s death at age 87 after a stroke has prompted a divided reaction in the U.K., with her Tory supporters lauding her economic reforms and strength of character. Her political opponents have pointed to the decline in traditional manufacturing and growing north-south divide under her premiership, which lasted from 1979 to 1990. She will receive a ceremonial funeral in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral on April 17.

The motion calls on the House of Commons to recognize that Thatcher “changed not only the face of politics but the face of a nation, through her dedication, commitment, energy and determination, that she secured a successful future for this country that many at the time thought unthinkable.”

Heathrow Proposal

The Press Association newswire cited Metcalfe as saying both London’s main hub, Heathrow, and Stansted in Essex could be considered for renaming.

There are international precedents: Washington National Airport was renamed for U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Thatcher’s Cold-War ally, while Paris’s main hub bears the name of President Charles de Gaulle. Last year, Prague’s airport was re- named after the poet-president, Vaclav Havel, while Berlin’s new airport, whose opening has been delayed, recalls former German Chancellor Willy Brandt.

In the U.K., cultural and sporting icons are commemorated instead: Liverpool John Lennon Airport recalls the late Beatle, while Belfast City Airport carries the name of Northern Ireland soccer star George Best.

Editor: Francis Harris. To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Buckle in London at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at [email protected].  


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Tags: lhr, london, politics, stansted

Photo credit: A man walks in front of a newspaper advertisement with the portrait of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Sydney. Daniel Munoz / Reuters

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