Boris Johnson given green light by Theresa May to campaign against Heathrow expansion
Theresa May today told Cabinet ministers they will be free to break ranks with the Government's decision on airport expansion - all-but confirming that Heathrow rather than Gatwick will get the nod.
In a major break with convention, the Prime Minister said she would suspend collective Cabinet responsibility for "a certain period" to allow her frontbenchers to campaign against government policy.
The move, which she announced at Cabinet this morning, is a clear sign that the Government is likely to give the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow - a move bitterly opposed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening - rather than a second one at Gatwick.
It has also been confirmed that the long-awaited decision will finally be taken by a special Cabinet sub-committee on airport expansion when it meets next week.
Mrs May's official spokeswoman said the Prime Minister had told Cabinet that a decision on airport expansion "had been delayed for too long" - an apparent swipe at David Cameron's indecision.
She added: "The Prime Minister said she wanted to approach this in a mature way, recognising that a number of ministers have long-held views on this issue and that in light of that there would be a certain period of time after the committee has taken the decision where they would be able to express those views and they would not be expected to publicly support the Government's position."
However, the spokeswoman refused to be drawn on whether Cabinet members would still be expected to vote with the Government when the issue is debated in the Commons.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling led a Cabinet debate on the issue lasting more than an hour, during which most ministers - including Mr Johnson and Ms Greening - set out their views.
The spokeswoman added: "There was a range of views around the table. The clear consensus was about the importance of taking this decision to address airport capacity in the long-term."