Theresa May has retreated from holding a parliamentary vote on airport expansion this autumn after the government was warned that Tory MPs could resign their seats if ministers backed a third runway at Heathrow. Two Conservative sources said Downing Street had been warned by whips that May could face resignations and byelections in seats that could be lost to the Liberal Democrats in south-west London.
The prime minister appeared to prepare the way for a decision in favour of expansion at Heathrow on Tuesday, as she revealed cabinet responsibility would be suspended for longstanding opponents of airport expansion in west London. This would allow Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, and Justine Greening, the education secretary, to carry on voicing dissent on behalf of their constituents.
I can’t decide whether May’s dither and delay about LHR is to ensure that Johnson can’t slip responsibility and resign “on a point of principle” and so slip the Brexit noose she’s prepared or whether she’s (already) not up to being PM. I suspect the later – suspending collective responsibility is for serious things, not like a new runway. And did you notice she further spun it out by making sure we all knew the planning process would take four years. Pathetic doesn’t really sum it up.