Runway decision expected amid MPs' objections

How is it that the government can both announce a decision on airport expansion and kick the hard decision further down the road?

We had such a situation today.

Yes, the Cabinet spent a whole hour discussing the controversial matter of Heathrow's third runway or Gatwick's second.

Yes, Downing Street announced that the decision will be made next week.

Yes, that decision is likely to be Heathrow given the suspension of cabinet responsibility we told you about earlier today to accommodate Boris Johnson's objections.

But, yes, the government then published a timetable for the public consultation and concluded MPs would not be voting on the "government's decision" until the winter of 2017/18.

A decision will be made between expanding Heathrow or Gatwick. Credit: PA

That tells us that Number 10 has sorted ministers' objections now that those who oppose Heathrow expansion can continue to oppose it.

But Number 10 has been spooked by Tory MPs in constituencies in and around Heathrow threatening to resign their seats and force a by-election if a third runway is approved.

Boris Johnson and Justine Greening will continue their objections. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister won't want to run the risk of her small majority becoming any smaller.

We should not be surprised when it comes to a decision of expanding Heathrow or Gatwick.

You can simultaneously make a decision and delay it.

And today the government did just that.