No 10 admits Tories lack votes to push Heathrow runway through, after it is left out of Queen’s Speech
The Queen’s Speech made no mention of proposals to build new Heathrow runway. Indeed there was no mention of aviation at all. The Queen’s Speech was intended to set out the programme of the government for two years, and was hugely weaker than it would have been, if the Conservatives had won a majority in the June general election. If they had, they would have pushed the manifesto intention of getting the runway built. Downing Street later said Theresa May remained committed to holding a Commons vote on the Heathrow NPS, but there is now serious doubt they could push it through without a majority. Now the most controversial Tory plans have had to be dropped, in Mrs May’s bid to get her legislative programme through the Commons. Tory whips have warned that as many as 40 Tory MPs could vote against Heathrow runway plans over concerns about noise and the environmental impact on their constituencies. The vote on the Heathrow NPS was likely to be a free vote, due to the known opposition of senior ministers, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Labour’s position on Heathrow is unclear, but John McDonnell and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are strongly opposed to it. Jeremy Corbyn is himself opposed, and it is likely that Labour will now oppose the runway plans, to force an embarrassing defeat on the Government.
Threat to new Heathrow runway: No 10 admits Tories lack votes to see the plan through after it is left out of the Queen’s Speech
By Jason Groves, Political Editor For The Daily Mail
Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech made no mention of proposals to build new runway [There was no mention of aviation at all]
Downing Street later said May remained committed to holding a Commons vote. But sources said it was unclear if they could push it through without a majority.
Theresa May’s manifesto appeared to be in tatters as key pledges not mentioned
Plans for an £18billion expansion of Heathrow Airport could be blocked in the Commons, Government sources admitted last night. The Queen’s Speech made no mention of proposals to build a new runway, which the Government backed last year.
Downing Street later said Theresa May remained committed to holding a Commons vote on the plans. But Government sources said it was unclear if they could now push it through following the loss of the Conservative majority.
The runway scheme was among numerous Tory plans to be stripped from the speech. The Prime Minister’s manifesto appeared to be in tatters as key pledges on grammar schools, fox hunting and pensions were all not mentioned.
Asked why so many campaign promises had been ditched, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told BBC Radio 4: ‘I’m not going to hide it from you that the election did not turn out exactly as we would have hoped.’
A successful prime minister would expect to use their first Queen’s Speech after an election to implement the main proposals in their manifesto. But instead, the most controversial Tory plans were dropped in a bid to get Mrs May’s legislative programme through the Commons.
Mrs May had promised means-testing of the winter fuel payment, but this does not feature in the package. She also pledged to replace David Cameron’s pensions ‘triple lock’ with a ‘double lock’, but there were no measures in the speech to implement this.
Ending the ban on new grammar schools also fell by the wayside. Instead, documents released alongside the speech state the Government will ‘look at all the options’ for ensuring all children go to good or outstanding schools.
Yesterday one unnamed Tory MP said: ‘They asked me how much of the manifesto I’d like to see in the Queen’s Speech and I said hopefully none.’
Support for Heathrow expansion in the Commons was looking tight even before the snap election.
Mrs May indicated last year that ministers are likely to get a free vote on the issue, following warnings that senior Cabinet ministers such as Mr Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening might otherwise walk out. Tory whips have warned that as many as 40 Tory MPs could vote against the plans over concerns about noise and the environmental impact on their constituencies.
Defeat over Heathrow would be a significant embarrassment for Mrs May, who made the issue a priority when she took power last year. But it would be welcomed by Mr Johnson, the favourite to succeed her, who has previously called for the project to be ‘consigned to the bin’.
The Foreign Secretary has vowed to lie down ‘in front of bulldozers’ to prevent the project ever going ahead, and could now mobilise his Tory supporters to help kill it off.
A senior Government source said: ‘Heathrow, like some of the counter-terrorism agenda, is one of those issues where we may struggle for numbers. It doesn’t need primary legislation, but we are committed to giving parliament a vote.’
Labour’s position on the issue is unclear. Senior figures such as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are opposed to the construction of a third runway.
But the party’s manifesto is silent on the issue. Privately, ministers believe Labour will now oppose expansion at Heathrow in a bid to force an embarrassing defeat on the Government.
Downing Street yesterday said that a consultation on the runway project had closed last month. Ministers are now considering the responses before making a formal recommendation to parliament, probably later this year.
A spokesman said: ‘We are fully committed to the construction of a new runway at Heathrow.’
DUP want Air Passenger Duty scrapped as part of deal with Tories
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The Democratic Unionist Party has asked for significant investment in health and infrastructure in NI as part of a parliamentary deal with the Tory Party.
Negotiations began after the Tories failed to win an outright majority in the general election and needed DUP support for a minority government.
On Tuesday, the DUP expressed concern that it was being “taken for granted” in the discussions.
Sources told the BBC on Wednesday the party wants to see £1bn investment in the health service in Northern Ireland and a similar figure for infrastructure projects.
The DUP has also focussed on key economic measures including a reduction of corporation tax and the scrapping of air passenger duty (APD).
BBC News NI political correspondent Stephen Walker said: “Sources close to the talks process say the plans to scrap APD have “stirred much resistance within the Treasury.”