Former environment minister Tim Yeo asks prime minister if he is ‘a man or a mouse’
A senior Conservative has launched a stinging attack on David Cameron, urging the prime minister to decide if he is “a man or a mouse” over the expansion of Heathrow airport.
The former environment minister Tim Yeo, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, said environmental objections to a third runway were disappearing and backing the third runway would give the government a “sense of mission”.
Earlier, speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday, Yeo said the issue “was a race in which Britain is now falling behind and we need to get back into it”.
Yeo wrote: “The prime minister must ask himself whether he is man or mouse. Does he want to be another Harold Macmillan, presiding over a dignified slide towards insignificance? Or is there somewhere inside his heart – an organ that still remains impenetrable to most Britons – a trace of Thatcher, determined to reverse the direction of our ship?
“An immediate go-ahead for a third runway will symbolise the start of a new era, the moment the Cameron government found its sense of mission. Let’s go for it.”
The outspoken comments came after the housing minister, Grant Shapps, warned recently that a third runway was needed to ensure the UK remained a “great trading nation” and the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, accused Cameron against “pussyfooting around” on expansion.
Yeo, who chairs the Commons energy committee, was previously a high-profile opponent of expansion but now argues that European Union carbon emissions caps will force airlines to use more environmentally friendly planes if they want to use new capacity at Heathrow.
He added: “We could cover the whole of Surrey with runways and not increase emissions by a single kilogramme: if Heathrow expands, so remaining the European destination of choice, airlines will fly their newest and quietest aircraft to it.”