The decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow was given the green light due to the looming fear of Brexit.
That was the view of former transport secretary Lord Andrew Adonis, who told delegates at the ITT Conference in Sicily there was an irony in that Heathrow expansion might be the “only big piece of infrastructure that goes ahead because of Brexit.”
“I think for that reason Heathrow will get the go ahead,” he added. “We will need to be able to get to all these destinations that Liam Fox is saying we’re going to be trading with.”
Adonis was speaking just an hour before the government approved the decision for Heathrow expansion. He pointed out: “The cabinet is already divided on it [a third runway] and Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead is close to Heathrow. But there is a lot of very strong support for Heathrow expansion outside of London because a lot of MPs see it as a lifeline for businesses.
“It is essential that we have an expanded Heathrow. It is highly important to the economy of the UK and our ability to present ourselves with first world travel capabilities.”
Adonis said if given parliamentary approval, he was optimistic a third runway could be built in eight years. “Construction could start in 2021 and we could be open in 2025 – 2026.”
Elsewhere he labelled Brexit “the single biggest self-inflicted wound that the UK has committed since the Second World War” and he insisted the public should be given a vote on the terms of the final deal, which Adonis acknowledged could lead to the UK remaining part of the EU.
“The right thing is for parliament to refer the final treaty to the British people for another referendum… and in that referendum my belief is that there will be a big majority for staying in the EU. I believe more young people will vote in this referendum – and they will vote overwhelmingly to stay.”