Theresa May 'considering ditching free vote on Heathrow' in bid to stave off defeat

Posted On: 
4th June 2018

Boris Johnson could be forced to defy Theresa May over a third runway at Heathrow, following reports that the Prime Minister will whip MPs to back airport expansion.

Theresa May's move to impose a three-line whip on Heathrow could force Boris Johnson to defy the Government.

The Foreign Secretary has previously branded plans for a third runway a "disaster" and the Prime Minister had been expected to allow a free vote on the issue.

But The Telegraph reports that Mrs May is now mulling a tough three-line whip on a Commons vote on expansion later this month, amid concern the Government could struggle to get the plans through.

Chris Grayling to lay out 'Heathrow or nothing' warning in call for MPs to back airport expansion

Virendra Sharma MP: Heathrow meets Labour’s air quality test

Fresh Government figures 'question case' for Heathrow runway expansion

Ministers are reportedly concerned that a free vote could set a “dangerous precedent” for future infrastructure votes, while whips also fears Labour could object to the expansion on environmental grounds.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is expected to set out details of the third runway plans on Tuesday, with a vote then due within 21 sitting days of Parliament.

But the paper reports that Mr Johnson - as well as trade minister and fellow Heathrow opponent Greg Hands - could be allowed to leave the country on official business in order to miss the crunch vote.

Former education secretary Justine Greening said: "I hope that the Government honours the commitment it made previously to have a free vote. A lot of MPs who fundamentally believe this is a bad thing will be left with no choice but to vote against a Government whip."