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