In just more than a week, British Prime Minister Theresa May has lost her second frontbencher with Greg Hands, a trade minister, stepping down because of the plans of the government to expand Heathrow.
Hands was the MP for Chelsea and Fulham. Shortly after the date of the confirmation of the vote, he announced his resignation
In a tweet that was posted this morning, he stated: “As the government will be whipping the vote on Monday, this means I am resigning from the government.”
He added: “It has been an honour to serve the Prime Minister (and her predecessor) for the last seven years and I wish the PM & the government every continuing success.”
He was playing a significant role in the post-Brexit trade strategy of the government. He is also the second minister in only over a week to have thrown the towel in because of some disagreements with the policy.
Last Tuesday, Phillip Lee, the Bracknell MP, stepped down ahead of the return of the EU Withdrawal Bill. He said that he wanted to be able to “look my children in the eye.”
Some ministers must abide by collective responsibility. This means that they cannot speak out or vote against official policy.
Hands is not the only member of the government of PM May to have some reservations regarding her support for the expansion of Heathrow.
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has also nailed his colours to the mast. He previously said that he would “lie down with the bulldozers” to stop it.
Also, even though he was warned not to speak out regarding the plans unless it was to “restate” his views, and then only to constituents or local media, Johnson informed a group of party activists that expansion was “the right idea, not sure it’s necessarily the right place.”
The former London mayor and Uxbridge MP is believed to not be in the country to cast his vote on Monday.
Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, said regarding Hands: “His work as minister for trade policy has been hugely valuable as we deliver the UK’s independent trading policy for the first time in more than 40 years. I want to thank him on behalf of everyone at DIT for his hard work over the last two years.”