Prime Minister Theresa May has put a final decision on on airport expansion in the south-east of England on hold to give ministers freedom to speak out against the government’s proposals in a move to head off possible Cabinet resignations.
The government will announce its preferred choice between Heathrow and Gatwick next week but it is now likely that Ms May will not put the decision to parliament for approval until at least ‘winter’ next year.
The highly unusual special arrangement will heighten speculation the government is poised to give its backing to a new runway at Heathrow, which has been fiercely opposed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening.
In a letter to ministers, the Prime Minister said that colleagues with long-standing views or constituency interests on the issue will be given an “exceptional and limited” freedom to criticise the decision of the Cabinet’s airports sub-committee.
The move to give Cabinet ministers a ‘derogation’ from collective responsibility will help her avoid high profile resignations.