So Young Dave has completed most of his reshuffle, and a sorry sight much of it is: Chris Grayling has actually been promoted, and is now Justice Secretary. Jeremy Hunt has not only remained in the cabinet but has been made Health Secretary. Grant Shapps, answering the pleas of Coalition critics everywhere, has been made Tory Party chairman. And Justine Greening has left Transport.
However, and with reshuffles there is inevitably a however, Ms Greening, who has taken over as International Development Secretary, is still a cabinet minister. Should that be significant? Well, if the subsequent outburst by London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is anything to go by, it is most significant, and shows that Bozza still holds a candle for his pet airport project.
“There can be only one reason to move her - and that is to expand Heathrow Airport. It is simply mad to build a new runway in the middle of west London. Nearly a third of the victims of aircraft noise in the whole of Europe live in the vicinity of Heathrow. Now it is clear that the government wants to ditch its promises and send yet more planes over central London. The third runway would mean more traffic, more noise, more pollution - and a serious reduction in the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people. We will fight this all the way” said Bozza, in an interview with Sky News (“first for breaking wind”).
Going once more into Jon Stewart mode, two things here. One, Ms Greening effectively threatened to leave the cabinet if a Heathrow expansion went ahead. So moving her sideways does not remove that threat.
And second, Heathrow is not, as anyone who looks in on Zelo Street will know, the only alternative to Boris Island for airport capacity in the south-east. There has been no word yet on the future of nearby RAF Northolt, but the main event could hinge on developments surrounding the story from last weekend.
This, as I posted yesterday, first emerged in the Independent On Sunday, and suggested that a consortium was looking at locations in Oxfordshire and Berkshire – not Buckinghamshire, where the Roskill Commission recommended a new airport over 40 years ago – for a new hub airport. As I pointed out, this could easily mean that a former airbase site could be involved.
Why so? Well, there aren’t any recently abandoned such sites in Buckinghamshire, but there are in the other two counties. That development would take all the aircraft noise away from west London, just as Bozza wants. So what’s the problem? Simples. It wouldn’t be Boris Island. And Bozza wants to have his airport, located where he says it should be. Hence the mardy strop.
Thus the difference between the “man of the people” image and reality. Crikey!