Ministers free to '˜temporarily' disagree with airports decision

Ministers opposed to the expansion of Heathrow will be permitted to speak out against the government's position on expanding airport capacity in the south-east of England when it makes it final decision next week.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell will form part of the cabinet sub-committee that will decide whether to back expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick, it was also revealed.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said the decision will deliver better connectivity for Scottish airports, whichever airport plan gets the go ahead.

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However, in a move that will raise speculation the government will approve a third runway for Heathrow, Downing Street has revealed ministers will temporarily be free to criticise the decision.

At a cabinet meeting Theresa May told ministers there would be a “special arrangement for a limited time” allowing them to publicly disagree with the government’s position, although they may still be required to vote in favour of the plan.

Senior ministers including Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are long-standing opponents of a third runway at Heathrow.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said there were a “large range of views around the table” when airport expansion was discussed at cabinet, with a final decision made by the sub-committee next week.