Article first posted on The Commentator.
A decision on airport expansion in the South-East will now be made by the Cabinet sub-committee this week. Most of the word coming out of Number 10 indicates this is likely to be in favour of expanding Heathrow.
A year-long public consultation has been promised, with the aim of allowing Cabinet ministers — including Boris Johnson and Justine Greening who both oppose the move — the opportunity to let off steam prior to the vote next winter. Ironically, it was the vote for Brexit, which Heathrow airport itself opposed, which may have clinched the decision for Heathrow.
Brexit will be seen by future generations as a turning point. The post-1945 political consensus, which led to the current unhealthy focus on Europe, has been smashed.
UK companies will stop taking the easy option of trying to sell to a nearby European market and instead look over the horizon to where there are far greater global opportunities.
In order to take advantage of these, the UK must have sufficient capacity to export goods worldwide. Airports are essential for this. Over the past year, £48 billion worth of goods were exported from Heathrow, but it is now close to maximum capacity.
Heathrow’s current status as the primary airport which links the UK to markets outside Europe means it will most likely be chosen for the first expansion.
There are many bitter Remoaners who claim Brexit was a victory for little Englanders who want to ‘pull up the drawbridge’ to the rest of the world. The reality is the majority of people who voted to ‘Leave’ the EU, did so to bring back control and to embrace a more global Britain, looking at the wider world rather than obsessing over one continent.
Brexiteers look eagerly at the rapidly expanding markets in Asia, Africa and America, rather than sticking to an outdated view of the importance of the failing Eurozone and the European Union.
Expanding Heathrow is the first step in demonstrating to the world Britain is embracing its new global future.
Increasing the capacity of Heathrow would be a great start to Brexit Great Britain. But it should only be the start. What about Gatwick? If Prime Minister Theresa May is feeling brave, she should allow both airports to expand, spurring each other on and ensuring greater competition and choice for British consumers and businesses. If she is really brave she could consider re-examining the case for a brand new airport in the Thames estuary.
Cameron’s government predictably balked at such a major project, but it would be seen by the world as a major vote of confidence in the UK post-Brexit. Expanding Heathrow and/or Gatwick should be seen as a temporary measure, designed to ensure sufficient capacity next decade. A brand new airport, complete with numerous runways, would ensure sufficient capacity for the next generation.
The UK’s decision to Leave the EU was a vote for a bold and exciting future. Not content with being slowly dragged down by the economic mess which is the Eurozone, the Great British Public voted to break free.
Brexit should be the start of a new mindset. We should not be content with the easy option. Theresa May must be both brave and bold to ensure Brexit is a success. Expanding the UK’s airport capacity is a vital first step for Brexit Britain, and essential for proving why we were right to Get Britain Out of the EU.