Heathrow expansion is a ‘fantasy’ Boris Johnson alleges
The construction of a third runway at Heathrow airport is a ‘fantasy’ destined for the ‘dustbin’ according to foreign secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson.
Johnson made his remarks after it emerged that he would not be included on a cabinet committee that will decide on expanding the airport.
The move was seen as a potential signal that Prime Minister Theresa May is getting ready to approve the new runway.
Johnson warned that the taxpayer would foot the bill for the inevitable failure of Heathrow expansion.
He has long been an opponent of the plans and instead proposed the creation of a new four-runway airport built on an artificial island in the Thames estuary dubbed 'Boris Island' during his mayoral tenure.
Last year Johnson claimed that building a third runway at Heathrow would mean ‘investing in decline’ after a government report looking into the proposal showed that it would not solve capacity issues.
"As I've advocated for many years Heathrow expansion is the wrong choice, and if it is chosen it simply won't get built," he said.
"The massive costs and enormous risks mean it's undeliverable, and the taxpayer will be saddled with the bill for failure.
"While we are finding this out our international competitors will be further extending their competitive advantage over us. We need to consign this Heathrow fantasy to the dustbin. We need a better solution.”
It is understood that Johnson will still contribute to the debate due to his eight years' experience as London mayor and as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, near Heathrow.
The long-awaited decision on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick is politically highly sensitive for the prime minister due to divisions within the Tory ranks. It emerged last week that ministers may be given a free vote on the issue.
Although, as Foreign Secretary, Johnson does not hold a direct interest in airport expansion as part of his job, the decision will affect his brief in terms of Britain's links with the rest of the world, as a new runway could open up new destinations for direct flights.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "We will confirm membership of the Cabinet committee in due course."
An internal government paper filmed by a passenger on the London Underground discusses the ‘potential waiving of collective responsibility’ ahead of the forthcoming decision on airport capacity.
Last year the Department for Transport announced that further investigation into noise, pollution and compensation would need to be carried out before a decision is made.
Former prime minister David Cameron was expected to give further indications about the project after the EU referendum, but his resignation following the victory for the Brexit campaign meant the decision was left for his successor.