Transport Secretary Justine Greening could resign from Government if David Cameron backs third Heathrow runway

 

The Transport Secretary Justine Greening today gave the strongest indication yet that she is backing Boris Johnson’s plan for a new hub airport near London to replace Heathrow.

In an interview Ms Greening admitted that she would find it “difficult” to remain as a minister if David Cameron reversed Tory policy and backed Heathrow expansion.

And she suggested that Government needed to reject a third runway at Heathrow and find a long-term radical solution to the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England.

“This third runway (at Heathrow) as it’s called is actually just half a runway in length, which can’t take big planes,” she said.

“My sense is that simply won’t be enough to address our country’s needs. It’s now time to look long term, think far more boldly, and get on with this question of capacity.

“What we do need to do is to start the process of saying well, if we're not going to have a third runway, how do we make sure we have got the hub capacity that our country needs going forward?”

Her comments came after the former Conservative minister Tim Yeo, who is now chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, goaded Mr Cameron to come out in favour of Heathrow expansion.

In an article he wrote: “The Prime Minister must ask himself whether he is man or mouse.

“Does he want to be another Harold Macmillan, presiding over a dignified slide towards insignificance?

“Or is there somewhere inside his heart - an organ that still remains impenetrable to most Britons - a trace of Thatcher, determined to reverse the direction of our ship?

“An immediate go-ahead for a third runway will symbolise the start of a new era, the moment the Cameron Government found its sense of mission. Let's go for it.”

The Department of Transport is due to publish a consultation paper examining the options for airport expansion in the South East in the autumn.

The Independent understands that the paper has already been written – but its publication is being held up by George Osborne who believes it needs to re-open the Heathrow option.

But asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme whether she could continue to serve in government if a third runway was approved, she said: “I think it would be difficult for me to do that. But I think, at the end of the day, the process I'm about to kick off is one that will see us come up with a much better, longer-term, solution.”

Asked whether she would remain in post, she said: “I certainly hope so. It's a fantastic job, I think we've done an awful lot in the 10 months I've been in the role.”

The planned runway was opposed by both the Tories and Liberal Democrats at the general election and the Coalition Agreement between the two parties explicitly cancelled the expansion.

Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson also opposes a third runway at Heathrow, favouring instead a new airport in the Thames Estuary to the east of the capital.

But senior Conservatives have become increasingly vocal about the need to expand London's main airport in order to increase capacity to maintain the city's global economic status.

They say any airport in the Thames Estuary would be complicated and expensive and would not be able to attract enough private investment to make it financially viable.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own