Downing Street has reportedly indicated that it would include ‘all the options’ for expanding airport capacity in the southeast, including a new runway at Heathrow.
Number 10 yesterday confirmed that Heathrow owner BAA will be allowed to press its case for a third runway in the forthcoming review, prompting speculation about an impending U-turn, the Daily Mail reported.
A spokesman insisted the government would stick to its pledge not to build a third runway at Heathrow during this Parliament.
But some ministers, including Chancellor George Osborne, are pressing for the promise to be dropped at the 2015 election.
Prime Minister David Cameron is set to order an independent commission into the future of the UK’s airports in a bid to end political infighting over the issue and secure a wider political consensus.
Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith, a former adviser on the environment to Cameron, reiterated his threat to stand down if the Conservatives change its policy on barring expansion at Heathrow.
“I promised before the election that if the Conservatives perform a U-turn on Heathrow, I would trigger an immediate by-election so that local voters can have their say,” he told the newspaper. “Clearly, I would honour that commitment.
“I think if we enter the next election with a manifesto which does not rule out expansion of Heathrow I think the Conservative Party will be very badly defeated in areas beneath the flight path.”
Transport secretary Justine Greening has also said it would be “difficult” for her to continue in Cabinet if the party went back on its pledge on Heathrow.