Tube blunder suggests opt-out for anti-Heathrow ministers


The Government may give ministers a free vote over its forthcoming decision on a new runway in south east England, according to a document filmed on the Tube.

According to Channel 4 News, a passenger on the London Underground filmed a fellow passenger holding a document that discussed ‘potential waiving of collective responsibility’ ahead of ‘the forthcoming decision around airport capacity’.

Heathrow's image of how it might look if its expansion bid succeeds

The document, which appears to be a printout of an email between senior Cabinet Office civil servants, discusses the possibility of ‘allowing Ministers to speak against the government's position in the House’.

Usually, ministers are expected to support the Government’s line on even the most controversial issues, although this convention was waved during the recent EU referendum campaign.

The Government is expected to make a decision shortly on the Airport’s Commission’s recommendation that Heathrow Airport should be the site of a new runway in south east of England.

Although the Commission concluded its work in July last year, the Government’s response has been repeatedly postponed. Senior cabinet ministers such as education secretary Justine Greening and foreign secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson have previously expressed strong opposition to expanding Heathrow.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which also opposes a new runway for the West London airport, said: ‘It is unprecedented for a free vote to be granted on anything other than a constitutional issue or a matter of conscience. The fact that the Government is considering one on a third runway reveals once again the strength of the opposition within the Cabinet.’


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