The government has finally given the green light to the plan to build a third runway at Heathrow after years of delays and opposition from campaigners.
The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, told MPs the announcement represented a “historic moment” that showed ministers had a clear vision to build “a Britain fit for the future”. Critics claim it will damage the environment and could end up costing the taxpayer billions.
The government will face tough opposition from Conservative MPs despite confirming it will impose a three-line whip for a crunch vote in the Commons, meaning it could be forced to rely on the support of Labour and the Scottish National party.
Theresa May wrote to ministers confirming that those with longstanding objections to a third runway would be permitted to restate their views in their local media, but not to campaign actively against the decision.
The Guardian understands that Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who has said he would “lie down in front of bulldozers” to prevent the project, is not planning to resign over the issue, raising the likelihood of him being abroad for official business on the day of the vote.
May and her ministers backed the expansion of Heathrow at a cabinet subcommittee meeting on Tuesday morning, with the decision to improve air capacity in London and the south-east then approved by the full cabinet.
It will now go to a vote in parliament, which will be held within 21 sitting days, though sources suggested it would be sooner to avoid any rebellion gathering momentum. One cabinet source told the Guardian it could be on 18 June.
In a statement to MPs, Grayling said: “Today I’m laying before parliament our final proposal for an airports national policy statement which signals our commitment to securing global connectivity, creating tens of thousands of local jobs and apprenticeships, and boosting our economy for future generations by expanding Heathrow airport.”