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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

May under pressure as runway decision looms

Theresa May

Prime minister Theresa May is coming under pressure from all sides in the airport expansion debate as the government inches closer to a final decision.

Speculation over the last week had suggested that a decision on whether to allow Heathrow or Gatwick to expand would come as early as Tuesday (October 18), but the decision will reportedly be now made next week.

There have also been reports that the government may be moving towards approving Heathrow expansion, despite the cabinet featuring prominent opponents to this policy, including foreign secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson.

The BBC has reported that May could allow a “short pause” in making the much-delayed decision to allow individual cabinet members to express their opinions at a meeting today (October 18).

A decision could then be taken next week by the Economic Affairs (Transport) sub-committee, which is chaired by the prime minister.

Meanwhile 50 MPs from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have called upon May to give the green light to building a third runway at Heathrow.

“Although Heathrow is in London, it is the UK's hub airport,” the MPs wrote in their letter. “Other countries are investing in and supporting their hub, or looking on enviously as they hub through other countries.

“Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have our own successful and growing airports. But Heathrow is our gateway to the world, bringing tourists to our attractions and helping our exporters reach new markets.”

The Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, last year recommended that a third runway should be built at Heathrow in preference to a second runway at Gatwick.

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