Cabinet split growing: MPs demand a vote on Heathrow

Airbus over houses

When Governments face rebellion in the back benches, they traditionally defer whatever is causing the problem. This buys them enough time to offer out peerages and cushy jobs to the rebels, defusing enough of the protest to win a vote when the division bell sounds. But Transport Secretary Geoff 'Buff' Hoon may live to regret delaying the Heathrow decision, because this rebellion shows no sign of dying out.

West London Labour MPs who recognise they'll get a kicking in the next election (and a fair few who would benefit from high-speed rail) are now demanding a vote in the Commons - and the Tories or Lib Dems may be able to provide one. Senior Cabinet Ministers are now openly briefing against expansion, concerned that the "strict, local environmental limits" will be broken. BAA even tried to talk up an independent board to analyse the airport's eco-impact, only to be laughed off the Today programme.

The latest plan is to scrap the runway and opt for mixed-mode; such a political option. Mixed-mode - where the airport uses both runways for take-offs and landings - is not as sexy as the destruction of an ancient village, and there would not be as many extra flights. But it's still nonsense. It really doesn't matter whether your emissions come from new runways or old ones; what matters is whether they are increasing or not. Mixed-mode will increase emissions, so it must be sent packing - along with any residual plans to build another runway.