The man the polls say will be the next Prime Minister has made a personal pledge that there will be no third runway at Heathrow - “No ifs, no buts”.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron made the comments as he visited Richmond to take questions from residents.

More than 600 people applied to attend the Cameron Direct event, held in the Richmond Park parliamentary constituency, and 350 turned up on the night. They had the chance to put questions to Mr Cameron on topics as diverse as fox hunting, immigration and Europe.

When questions on aviation and global warming were put to the Tory leader he was firm in his belief that Heathrow expansion will not go ahead.

“The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts,” he told a packed audience at Christ’s School on Monday.

“Even if Labour win the next election because of the public pressure and the Conservatives not backing it, [airport owner] BAA is backing off already.”

The Tory leader answered questions for just under an hour - mainly on national and policy issues - and got a rousing ovation when he finished.

Zac Goldmsith, Tory parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park, said: "It’s right, and important, that the main opposition leader should be willing to take the time to meet face to face with voters and engage with them on the local and national issues that they are concerned about. This is what politics should be about.”

Councillor Nick True, leader of Richmond Conservatives, said: “Everyone there was gripped by David's ability, openness and character.

“We saw a man totally on top of his brief, down-to-earth, humorous, frank, but fully aware of the gravity of the task facing him and with the toughness, vision and clarity of mind to do the job.

“He came to appeal to the undecided voters of Richmond Park, who may well decide if he or Gordon Brown is the next Prime Minister.

“He showed he deserved their trust. I hope we give it to him.

“Our country and our community need the fresh start his changed Conservative Party offers.”

However Mark Griffin, a university lecturer who was in the audience, said: “I thought he was slick and smooth, but scratch the genial demeanour are some fairly frightening discriminatory policies especially regarding Europe and immigration.

“He completely side stepped the very pertinent question regarding the Conservatives links to far right organisations in Poland and Latvia.

“I also thought he used the platform to road test his idea of a post-16 citizenship camp, which, despite his protestations, would be a return to a form of National Service.”

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