Anger at Heathrow vote
Leaked document shows free vote being considered
A LEAKED document which revealed the Heathrow Airport third runway decision could be decided in a free vote in Parliament has caused outrage with campaigners.
A Channel 4 News exposé showed a cabinet office memo seen on the Tube which stated the government is considering a free vote in Parliament following an announcement on the runway decision.
The issue has raised concerns from campaigners on either side of the debate, with those fighting for the runway arguing ministers like Boris Johnson and Justine Greening would be allowed to vote against.
Although the document, from senior cabinet office director Sharon Carter to director Sue Gray, did not confirm any details, it suggested the option was being discussed as a possibility.
Chair of HACAN campaign group, which gives a voice to residents under the flight paths, John Stewart, 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.”
The news comes as supporters of the third runway visited Downing Street in a plea to the new Prime Minister Theresa May to make a decision on the issue. Back Heathrow campaigners, some 30,000 people, sent a message to May, with some gathering at Parliament Square on Tuesday September 1).
MP Steve Pound from Ealing North, who recently announced his support of Heathrow expansion because of the thousands of new jobs that will be created in the local communities, joined the group who assembled at Westminster.
Mr Pound said: “There simply has to be a decision – we can’t go on like this. Heathrow is by far the biggest employer of my constituents and with the environmental improvements that have been made I know that an expanded Heathrow will be of a real benefit to Ealing North and I urge the government to make a decision now – for the sake of the country, not just for Ealing North.”
The surge for Heathrow expansion is matched by opposers of the third runway, however.
Mid-August saw west London councils club together and write to Mrs May outlining the reasons why Gatwick Airport expansion should be chosen.
A cabinet committee chaired by the Prime Minister is expected to make a decision in October.
Big businesses, residents and MPs are pushing for the decision to be made after David Cameron pushed it back several times, despite claiming it won’t go ahead at Heathrow, with a memorable “no ifs, no buts” line.