Tory manifesto to avoid mention of Heathrow 3rd runway to help critics (like Boris and Hammond) get re-elected

The Telegraph has learned that the Conservative election manifesto will avoid mentioning the Heathrow proposed 3rd runway, in order to save the party political problems. A Conservative spokesman told the Telegraph there is “no need” to cite the project despite it not yet being voted through “because it was announced last year.””A more veiled reference to airport expansion is now expected to be included instead.”  Leaving it out of the manifesto means MPs such as Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond, Justine Greening and even the PM herself (with a constituency badly affected by Heathrow) are saved awkwardness. They hope to be able to avoid the issue, even though it one of the most expensive and controversial infrastructure projects proposed in then next few years. The issue was also not mentioned in the 2015 election when, again, it risked losing voters in seats affected by the airport – especially marginals.  A decision as large as Heathrow would be expected to be in an election manifesto, as it has implications for so many people.  That is especially the case as the draft NPS on Heathrow must be voted for in Parliament.  Tania Mathias continues to battle against the runway plans, as does Zac Goldsmith, now to be the Conservative candidate at Richmond Park. Both are contesting seats with others, equally opposed to the runway – Vince Cable and Sarah Olney.

Tory manifesto to be silent on Heathrow third runway to help critics with re-election

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Theresa May’s manifesto will not mention the Heathrow third runway after pressure from Boris Johnson and Tory critics, The Telegraph understands. 

A Conservative spokesman has told this newspaper there is “no need” to cite the project despite it not yet being voted through because it was announced last year. 

The concession comes after Tory MPs threatened to publicly disavow the election manifesto if it explicitly promised Heathrow expansion.

There were also fears it would have lost voters in crucial London marginal seats which the Liberal Democrats want to take from the Tories. 

Both Mr Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, are ardent opponents of a Heathrow third runway.

Mrs May backed Heathrow expansion last year, completing an about-turn from the Tories who had campaigned against the third runway in the 2010 election.

The decision was expected to be included in this year’s manifesto because it will be one of the most expensive and controversial infrastructure projects if she wins re-eleciton. 

However a Tory spokesman said: “There is no need for Heathrow to be in the manifesto because the decision was taken by the Government last year.”

A more veiled reference to airport expansion is now expected to be included instead.

There is no suggestion that the Tories are abandoning their policy of building the third runway, which is currently out to consultation.

However leaving it out of the manifesto solves a political problem brewing behind the scenes because up to a dozen Tory MPs are staunch opponents of the move. 

Mr Johnson, who once promised to lie down “in front of those bulldozers and stop the building”, joined the legal case against the expansion while London Mayor.

The Foreign Secretary would have had to publicly disown any Tory manifesto promise that the third runway would go ahead during the campaign.

Zac Goldsmith, who triggered a by-election after Heathrow was approved only to lose, faced a similar problem as he battles for re-election in Richmond Park next month.

He told The Telegraph he would “of course” oppose the third runway while campaigning over the coming weeks.

“Heathrow expansion matters to many people in our community, and it is so clearly the wrong answer. I’m determined to win the argument in Parliament and I think I can,” he said.

Tania Mathias, the Tory MP for Twickenham facing a tough battle to defeat Sir Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats, said similar.

“I have not missed a heartbeat in the campaign, even though an election has been called,” she told The Telegraph.

“As far as I’m concern, the public consultations are still ongoing. I am doing public meetings as I would continue to do. There is absolutely no change in the momentum against Heathrow expansion.”

A third Tory MP said: “I don’t agree with Heathrow expansion. If there is a vote in Parliament I would vote against. My position has been pretty consistent on this. I won’t be supporting it.”

Critics are expected to jump on the news because they argue the legal approval for Heathrow expansion can only come after a vote in Parliament.

The Tory government is also facing a legal challenge from four councils including Maidenhead and Windsor – in Mrs May’s constituency – while remains ongoing.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/29/tory-manifesto-silent-heathrow-third-runway-help-critics-re/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_em

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See earlier at the 2015 election, there was also silence on the matter:

 

Heathrow / Gatwick / new runway? Residents campaign, political parties stay silent – avoiding the issue pre-election

The coalition government deliberately instructed the Airports Commission to report AFTER the general election, so there would be no active runway planning during the course of the last parliament. And the main parties are keeping pretty tight-lipped on the matter of a new runway in this election campaign, aware of just how unpopular a runway decision would be. So while the airports lobby feverishly, and the campaigners against airport expansion campaign, the electorate do not get to discuss the issue before they vote.  The Tories just say they will “respond to the Commission” and Labour that it will “make a swift decision.” They are not even saying if they will take any notice of the Commission’s recommendation.  Gwyn Topham, with an excellent round-up on the issue in the Guardian says: “… decisions over the nation’s infrastructure after the 7 May election will involve billions in spending; affect tens of thousands of jobs; consign many communities to blight, noise and pollution; and alter the economic map of the UK. Yet political debate about the two most critical transport projects undertaken in decades [HS2 and a new runway] is all but absent.” Policy ideas on aviation, such as they are, party by party.    

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/05/heathrow-gatwick-new-runway-residents-campaign-political-parties-stay-silent-avoiding-the-issue-pre-election/

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