Next week will see the latest move in Theresa Villiers’s campaign against the third runway at Heathrow.

The Conservatives have decided to give over their Opposition Day debate in the Commons next Wednesday to discussion of the expansion of Heathrow airport.

Crucially, this means a motion will be tabled upon which MPs will be able to vote at the end of proceedings – something which transport secretary Geoff Hoon has effectively sought to stop from happening.

Theresa Villiers said:

"Because the Government have run away from a vote, we will be using our parliamentary time to allow one to take place."

She added that Labour MPs are "in disarray" on the issue, although it remains to be seen how many of those on the government backbenches who are sceptical about the third runway would be willing to back a Conservative motion on the issue. There is also the question of what potential Tory rebels who are supportive of airport expansion, such as David Wilshire, will do.

Jonathan Isaby