Boris Johnson has warned that a third runway at Heathrow airport will lead to “paralysis” and insisted that the government will not approve it.
Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of the UK Airports Commission, will next month publish a flagship report into airport capacity in the South East.
Mr Johnson said that he will “counsel” David Cameron “very strongly” against building a third runway at Heathrow.
He said that Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne pledged that there would be no third runway in the Conservative Party manifesto in 2010. “I think that the government will stick to that,” he said.
Mr Johnson will be free to campaign against a third runway at Heathrow in the wake of Sir Howard’s report as he is not a member of the full Conservative cabinet.
He said during LBC’s State of London debate: “It is perfectly obvious to me that there is going to be an unholy mess when Sir Howard reports.
“It’s going to happen fairly soon, within the next few weeks. They will plonk this great document on our desk.
“I will study the document with great care and I will reflect for about 40 seconds. If it comes out very firmly in favour of Heathrow I think that will lead to paralysis.”
He added that a third runway would lead to a significant rise in the levels of noise and pollution.
He said: “I would counsel him [David Cameron] very strongly against it. David Cameron, George Osborne and I made a very clear manifesto commitment – no ifs, no buts there wouldn’t be a third runway at Heathrow. I think the government will stick to that. ” He said he believes Stansted airport in Essex would be a better option.
Actual text from Conservative election leaflet for the May 2010 election. Full leaflet
The moment of truth is dawning for Cameron on Heathrow
Successive governments have chosen cowardice and prevarication over airport expansion
Long article …………..
A couple of extracts from it:
Perhaps the Prime Minister’s horizons are wider than that, but such an accusation would resonate beyond Feltham and Staines. The incumbent London mayor Boris Johnson is now MP for Uxbridge in west London and has long been implacably hostile to Heathrow’s expansion. The seats of several Cabinet ministers lie on the flight path. The potential for internal party strife is obvious. The argument advanced by some ministers that Mr Cameron’s pledge was only meant to last for the last Parliament simply won’t wash.
At least if the Aiports Commission opts for Gatwick, Mr Cameron is not hamstrung by a promise he probably wishes he had not made; but his problems don’t go away entirely. All the seats around Gatwick are Conservative-held and the MPs have formed an alliance to oppose a second runway there.
The Tory election manifesto promised nothing more than “to respond to the Airports Commission’s final report” which it could do by putting the recommendations to a vote in the Commons, though it is impossible to predict how this would go. Mr Cameron must dearly hope that the Airports Commission makes his life easier by opting for Gatwick. But even if it does, would MPs support it in a free vote? Labour has been all over the place on a third runway at Heathrow but it was once official party policy; meanwhile the SNP support it. Polls show that most MPs are in favour of Heathrow.
Gatwick has spare capacity and its expansion would be cheaper and less disruptive. However, the transport links from London, both road and rail, leave a great deal to be desired. The expectation among business leaders is that the Commission will plump for Heathrow because the economic case is better. But as we have seen before, the most likely final resting place for Sir Howard’s report is a dusty shelf, somewhere in Whitehall.
Gatwick Tory MPs warn of ‘political stitch-up’ on runways by anti-Heathrow faction in Cabinet
A group of senior Conservative MPs has warned David Cameron that he must avoid a “political stitch-up” that would favour cabinet ministers, and other party heavyweights led by Boris Johnson, who are campaigning against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Crispin Blunt, the former justice minister who chairs the 9-strong group of Tory MPs representing constituencies around Gatwick, told the Tory chief whip, Mark Harper, this week that cabinet ministers opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport should “recuse” themselves [ie. not take part in a decision, due to danger of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality] when the government considers the Airports Commission’s findings. The decision by the government must be taken in an impartial manner. The Gatwick area MPs are concerned that as well as Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith, both keenly against a Heathrow runway, in Cabinet there are also Justine Greening, Theresa May and Philip Hammond, who are openly against a Heathrow runway. The Gatwick MPs are concerned about a political stitch-up on the runway decision. They do not believe a runway at Gatwick is in the national interest.