Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has put himself on a collision course with Cabinet colleagues once again after the green light was given to a third runway at Heathrow.
The Hillingdon MP and former London Mayor has been a long-term opponent of development at the airport, especially during his eight years at City Hall.
The third runway scheme was chosen, ahead of expansion at Gatwick, when Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the airport sub-committee at Downing Street this morning.
Proposals to expand an existing runway at Heathrow or build a second runway at Gatwick were both rejected and a public consultation will now be held before the final decision is put to MPs for a vote in the winter of 2017/18.
Mr Johnson said a third runway at Heathrow was “undeliverable”, adding: “I think it very likely it will be stopped.”
Insiders confirmed he will make a full statement later today to argue the decision is ‘wrong’ and a ‘mistake’.
However, it is not thought he considers the issue a resigning matter, following the decision of Conservative colleague Zac Goldsmith, who unsuccessfully ran to succeed Mr Johnson as Mayor, to resign his Richmond Park seat, triggering a by-election.
Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, is also expected to send a message to her constituents in Putney, making clear that she is opposed to expanding Heathrow. She is again not thought to be considering her parliamentary position.
The Conservative big hitters will have an unlikely ally in their opposition in the form of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency contains Heathrow.
He said he would continue to campaign to ensure the third runway “never sees the light of day”, adding: “I’ve campaigned against this runway for over 30 years and in that time Heathrow have never managed to win the argument for expansion, which still remains the case.
“Nothing has changed. Building a third runway would be devastating for local residents who face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life.
“Four thousand homes face the prospect of either being demolished or rendered unliveable by air pollution and noise.
“This means 8-10,000 people forcibly removed from their homes. We have not seen anything on this scale in our country’s history.”
However, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling insisted the decision would hugely benefit the UK economy.
He said: “The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK ’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.”
The Prime Minister, whose Maidenhead constituency is on a major Heathrow flight path, had previously spoken out against expansion at the airport.
But all evidence of her comments had been wiped from her official website, though they are available thanks to archiving software.
In a post dated 16 January 2009, she said: “A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.”
Feature image courtesy of Stephen Lock, via Flickr, with thanks