Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed plans for a parliamentary vote on the issue of the Heathrow expansion. This is reportedly to avoid the loss of Conservative seats if MPs resigned and triggered by-elections in London as a result of the decision to back a third runway at Heathrow.
In 2015, the Airports Commission gave a unanimous verdict in favour of the third runway, as opposed to expanding Gatwick airport or extending one of Heathrow’s existing runways. However, the decision has been continually postponed, most recently by outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron following the Brexit vote.
The cabinet committee looks set to make the decision next week. May will then allow a period of time for Conservative MPs such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening to publicly voice their dissent ahead of the major vote in parliament. However, they are not permitted to speak against the decision in parliament or to campaign against the government.
The parliamentary vote will likely not happen before the winter of next year. “This is a subject that has been debated, discussed, speculated on for 40 years,” May said in the House of Commons. “This government will take a decision. But there is then a formal process that has to be undertaken.
“The government will identify its preferred option of site. That will then go to a statutory consultation. The government will then consider the results of the statutory consultation and bring forward an airports national planning statement on which this house will vote.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has accused May of “dither and delay”, stating that it will “cause unnecessary uncertainty for British businesses already struggling with Brexit.”
Sir John Armitt, who was a member of the Airports Commission in 2015, is confident in a vote for Heathrow but is “not sure why it takes a year for that debate to take place because there has been a lot of consultation and MPs are well up to speed on this issue.”
(Source: The Guardian)