Boris’s Heathrow runway problem returns

It looked like the courts had solved Boris Johnson’s third Heathrow runway problem when they ruled it illegal in February because of the actions the government is committed to on climate change. But this morning, the Supreme Court has overturned the Court of Appeals’ decision. This means that Heathrow can now seek planning permission for a third runway. There’s a long way from seeking planning permission to the bulldozers, which Johnson has promised to lie down in front of, moving in. There will undoubtedly be more legal challenges and court cases before this is finally resolved one way or the other; the government first backed a third runway at Heathrow

The growing rebellion against quarantine for UK arrivals

The government’s most unpopular policy on its own benches is its plan to make almost everyone arriving in this country quarantine for 14 days. Among backbenchers and the outer cabinet this policy is disliked with an increasing intensity. ‘Colleagues absolutely hate it’, one cabinet minister tells me. Some backbenchers dislike it because it will hit their own constituencies particularly hard – airlines and airports will lay off more staff because of it. Others dislike the ‘Britain is closed for business’ message it sends out. While for a growing number of ministers it has become a focus of their resentment at how policy is made with their minimal involvement – cabinet

Barometer: Is climate change making the weather more windy?

Heathrow’s nine runways When was a third runway for Heathrow first proposed? Heathrow was always planned to have multiple runways. On 10 April 1946, before the airport was even open, the Minister for Civil Aviation, Lord Winster, announced that the then London Airport was to have nine runways. Six would be in a Star of David pattern on the present site of Heathrow; the other three would form a triangle to the north of Bath Road, where the current proposal for a third runway is based. This was supposed to allow 160 aircraft movements per hour in good weather and 120 in bad weather. When Winster made his speech, three

Martin Vander Weyer

Britain’s economic fate doesn’t depend on Heathrow

Hit-and-miss, heavy-handed, but a necessary use of justice to deter repetition. That was my summing-up, last year, of the Serious Fraud Office’s probe into the Libor and Euribor scandal, in which just nine low-ranking traders from four banks were convicted, despite evidence that rate-fixing malpractice had been endemic throughout the money markets for years. In the case of the SFO’s inquiry into the controversial capital–raising that enabled Barclays to escape a taxpayer bailout in 2008, the summary has to be ‘miss-and-miss, heavier-handed than ever’. But still I ask: was it worthwhile as a warning to others? The nub of the case was the payment to Qatari investors, to secure their

Heathrow’s third runway ruling should worry Boris Johnson

It may well be, as Tom Goodenough argued here earlier, that Boris Johnson is secretly delighted at the Court of Appeal’s ruling that is was illegal for the government to give the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow without taking into account their own climate policy. The Prime Minister had, after all, promised his constituents that he would lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop a third runway. He now has the cover of a court decision to shield him from the Conservative party’s pro-runway elements if the project ends up being dropped. But the Prime Minister should be extremely concerned about the wider implications of this

Tom Goodenough

Boris will be relieved Heathrow’s new runway has been blocked

Boris Johnson once promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop Heathrow’s third runway ever being built. Fortunately for the Prime Minister, it now seems that he might not have to. The airport’s expansion plans have been thrown into doubt this morning after opponents won a legal fight against a new runway at Britain’s biggest airport. The Court of Appeal agreed with campaigners that then-transport secretary Chris Grayling ignored air quality and noise pollution concerns when he gave the project the green light in 2018. It now falls to Boris Johnson to appeal the ruling. But, of course, given his previous promises – and his fears about

Trust issues mean Heathrow’s third runway is unlikely to ever take off

Downing Street is acutely aware that one of the biggest dangers to this government is losing voters’ trust. As I say in the Sun today, if people come to see this administration as just another bunch of politicians who don’t do what they said they would, then it is doomed. Number 10 also knows that Boris Johnson’s opponents love to attack him as ‘untrustworthy’. This didn’t hurt him too much at the election because voters regard most politicians as untrustworthy. But if there was a clear and compelling example of him breaking his word to voters then that could change, and very quickly. The whole emphasis on promise-keeping is bad