Split over Heathrow could damage government, says Tory MP


Gatwick could be set to benefit from divisions in the cabinet over Heathrow expansion, as a Conservative MP has claimed senior members of his party are so divided over the proposals the schism could badly damage the government.

MP for Richmond Park in south west London, Zac Goldsmith, warned that ruling in favour of Heathrow over Gatwick – the two sites short listed for expansion by the Airports Commission – could open up a disastrous rift in the cabinet.

He told the BBC: ‘If you look at the cabinet today, there are at least three heavyweight people there, Philip Hammond [foreign secretary], Justine Greening [international development secretary] and Boris Johnson [Member of Political Cabinet] and others, in fact, who are implacably opposed to Heathrow expansion.

‘He'd [David Cameron] face a split at the highest level and I don't think a fragile government with a small majority wants to do that.’

The long-standing critic of the scheme also reiterated his vow to resign if the government chooses Heathrow, while Boris Johnson another arch opponent of Heathrow’s plans has said he would not resign but fight against the proposal.

However reports suggest that chancellor George Osborne and even the prime minister himself are in favour of Heathrow.

The former coalition government set up the Airports Commission chaired by Howard Davies to provide independent advice on the controversial issue. The commission is due to give a final report on the issue this summer.

If it recommends Heathrow, it could also leave the door open for Gatwick expansion further down the line as earlier interim reports identified a pressing need for extra capacity.

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