Minister quits to vote against third Heathrow runway

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Greg Hands has resigned as trade minister so he can vote against the expansion of Heathrow Airport with a third runway

Hands, who is a longstanding critic of Heathrow expansion, pledged at the 2017 General Election to oppose a third runway and is stepping down as minister of state for international trade because the government plans to enforce the whip on Monday’s vote.

The cabinet approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow earlier this month after nearly 20 years of back and forth.

The last Labour government approved Heathrow’s expansion in 2009 but the plans were put on hold when the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition came to power in 2010.

However, the Conservatives have since backed plans for the third runway – despite internal opposition from MPs including Hands and former transport secretary Justine Greening.

Boris Johnson has also opposed Heathrow’s expansion, once telling protestors that he would “lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building” of the third runway.

The foreign secretary is, however, expected to miss Monday’s vote because he will be out of the country.

Labour, along with the Liberal Democrats and Greens, opposes expansion, saying the plan does not meet four key tests of guaranteeing increased capacity, allowing the UK to meet CO2 reduction targets, minimising noise and local environmental impacts and that the benefits of expansion will be felt beyond London and the South East.

However, the party will give its MPs a free vote on Monday, meaning the plans are likely to pass.

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