Boris Johnson will be allowed to speak out against Heathrow expansion - but only to local media

Posted On: 
5th June 2018

Boris Johnson will be allowed to speak out against the Government's decision to back a third runway at Heathrow - but only to media in his constituency.

Boris Johnson signs a giant petition at a rally against the expansion of Heathrow Airport in 2013.
Credit: 
PA Images.

Downing Street confirmed that ministers who have previously made clear their opposition to the airport's expansion will be granted a "waiver" by the Prime Minister if they ask for one.

That will allow them to break the usual rules of collective Cabinet responsibility, which would normally force them to resign if they disagree with official government policy.

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However, those ministers will still be banned from voting against it in the Commons after Number 10 insisted Tory MPs will be whipped to support the third runway.

A special Cabinet sub-committee on Heathrow formally made the decision to back expansion this morning.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The PM has written to ministers setting out the policy on collective responsibility for the Heathrow vote. The letter says that ministers will be able to re-state long-standing views on the subject, where their views are already a matter of public record, and to pass on views of local constituents that are directly affected.

"However, given the Government made its preference decision over a year and a half ago, ministers will only be able to do this at a local level ie within their own constituencies and to local media.

"Any colleague that thinks that they fall into this category would be asked to write to the Prime Minister to seek approval for a waiver. The waiver is an exceptional arrangement which will only apply to those ministers that previously expressed strong opinions or have a directly-affected constituency.

"No minister will be allowed to campaign actively against the Government's decision, or publicly criticise or call into question the decision-making process itself, or speak against the Government in the House."

Sources close to Boris Johnson - who has previously said he would "lie down in front of the bulldozers" to stop the new runway, refused to deny claims that he will be out of the country when the Heathrow plan is voted on in the Commons.

Speaking in the Commons, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said giving the green light to the new runway was "a historic moment" which would create tens of thousands new jobs boost the UK economy.

But Labour said they would only back the scheme if it passed four environmental tests that they have set.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency includes Heathrow, made clear his continuing opposition to the project.

But CBI deputy director general Josh Hardie said: "It’s fantastic that the new runway at Heathrow is getting closer to take-off. All the more so as the United Kingdom has waited for nearly half a century for this decision."