May suspends cabinet responsibility for Heathrow expansion opponents

Reports that the Prime Minister has appeared to prepare the way for a decision in favour of expansion at Heathrow, as she revealed cabinet responsibility would be suspended for longstanding opponents of airport expansion in west London, feature in today's newspaper round-up.

Prime Minister Theresa May has "retreated" from holding a parliamentary vote on airport expansion this autumn, the Guardian reports. It says that May "signalled that there might not be a vote in parliament on this issue until winter 2017/18, despite the belief of senior government and opposition figures that a vote would take place this autumn". The Prime Minister also said that said that cabinet responsibility would be suspended for longstanding opponents of airport expansion, according to the newspaper.

The Prime Minister’s decision to tell cabinet colleagues that they would be free to speak out against the final decision is "a suspension of collective responsibility intended to allow critics to oppose a new runway without resigning", the Financial Times (subscription required) reports. According to the newspaper, the decision "seems to be aimed at Boris Johnson, foreign secretary, and Justine Greening, education secretary, both critics of an expanded Heathrow".

A separate analysis article in the Financial Times (subscription required) examines whether the third runway decision has been delayed. It says that, while the government has abandoned the idea of a first "symbolic" vote within days of next week’s announcement of its preferred location for the new runway, a second, binding vote on the national policy statement setting out the details of the development "was always going to take a year or two".

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith said that he would "make good his promise" to quit as MP for Richmond in west London and run as an independent candidate campaigning against a Heathrow expansion if that option was approved, The Times (subscription required) reports. The newspaper reports that Goldsmith "put the plan to his local Conservative group, which committed to support him even though it will mean he breaks away from the party".

Writing in the Guardian, George Monbiot says that there is only one answer to where a new runway should be built "that doesn’t involve abandoning our climate change commitments and moral scruples: nowhere". Monbiot writes: "The inexorable logic that should rule out new sources of oil, gas and coal also applies to the expansion of airports. In a world seeking to prevent climate breakdown, there is no remaining scope for extending infrastructure that depends on fossil fuels."

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