The decision on which airport to expand will be made next week, with ministers allowed to dissent, although the Parliamentary vote on the subject may take a year to happen
The BBC reports that Downing Street has said that ministers opposed to the decision will be allowed to voice their “personal views”. This has led to intense speculation that the suspension of collective cabinet responsibility indicates the decision will go Heathrow’s way, allowing Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, and others opposed to Heathrow expansion to publicly disagree, and possibly vote against in the commons vote which will follow.
The decision on whether to expand either Heathrow or Gatwick will be made at a cabinet airports sub-committee meeting next week. A letter from the Prime Minister to ministerial colleagues, published by the Daily Mirror, suggests the timetable for the parliamentary vote would be winter 2017/18, following a period of consultation.
Theresa May gave further fuel to the Heathrow flame by saying that a decision had to be taken now “in the national interest”.
It is thought allowing ministers to speak their mind may avert the resignations of those opposed.
It is to be hoped that Mrs May does not prevaricate as her predecessor, David Cameron, did. Upon becoming Prime Minister, he instituted the Davies Commission to report on whether and where a runway should be built. He then delayed its report until after a General Election, then delayed the Government’s response to that report.
Both sides of the debate agree that the uncertainty and delay is unhelpful. It is time to decide.