Cabinet ministers opposed to expanding Heathrow are not prepared to quit the Government over the issue, clearing the way for Theresa May to push ahead with a third runway.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, are unlikely to resign despite the impact it would have on their constituencies, The Sunday Telegraph understands.
Mrs May is prepared to push ahead with a third runway in October if she concludes that it is in the national interest, despite previously opposing plans to expand the airport. Whitehall sources made clear that she will not give in to resignation threats and that she doesn’t do deals.
The decision on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, expected in October, comes after more than 15 years of delays by both Labour and Conservative governments. Mr Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge in west London, has previously said that he is prepared to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop a third runway from being built, and was heavily opposed to expansion as Mayor of London.
Friends of Mr Johnson, however, have suggested he would stop short of leaving the Cabinet and the role of Foreign Secretary, which is pivotal as Britain leaves the European Union. A friend said: It’s not as if he has hidden his view about it. It’s perfectly reasonable for different members of Parliament to have different takes on regional policy, which is what this is.
Ms Greening, a former transport secretary and MP for Putney in south-west London, makes clear her opposition to Heathrow on her website.
It says that she will continue to stand up for the thousands of residents who are concerned about aircraft noise and she’ll keep working to make sure our local community is listened to.
As transport secretary in the Coalition she had said she would find it very difficult not to resign if the Government decided to expand Heathrow. She has indicated, however, that she could stay on in Cabinet now that she no longer holds the transport brief.
Earlier this year, Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, who has campaigned for a third runway, said Britain should push ahead with airport expansion in the South East.
He told the Telegraph that after the referendum Britain was facing a very competitive economic climate and could not afford to put off big decisions on infrastructure. Mrs May will chair a Cabinet committee which will decide on the third runway plan. Whitehall sources suggested the Government is leaning towards
Heathrow, but added that there are still significant environmental and cost issues to overcome. It has been suggested the Prime Minister could give Tory MPs a free vote on a new runway in the South East to stop ministers having to quit the Cabinet.
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