Boris Johnson
London Mayor Boris Johnson wants new airport in Thames estuary

David Cameron's hopes of avoiding a huge political row over the future of Britain's airports have been comprehensively dashed with the publication of the short-list of possible solutions.

The Davies Commission examining the hugely-sensitive issue has offered three alternatives, two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick and, crucially, put off until next year a decision on London mayor Boris Johnson's pet project of a new airport in the Thames estuary instead.
And Johnson has admitted that the only reason his "Boris Island" notion was included in the interim report at all was because he persuaded Sir Howard Davies of its merits.
But critics remain convinced that there is little chance of Davies changing his view that the mayor's project is a non-runner but has simply put off the row for a few months after pressure from Johnson.
Meanwhile Richmond's Tory MP Zak Goldsmith repeated his threat to resign and force a by-election over the issue if a Heathrow option gets the go-ahead, saying Cameron would suffer a significant revolt if he attempted to reverse his previous manifesto commitment against such a development.
He also said he believed Davies had given more weight to the two Heathrow options because he had been leant on by David Cameron as part of the prime minister's attempts to find a way of reversing his anti-Heathrow position after the next election.
"There seems to have been a lot of interference throughout the process," he said.
Johnson openly admitted he had leant on Davies, telling political journalists in Westminster that his estuary airport plan was not originally going to be included in the short-list but "He's been told to have another think". Asked who had "nobbled" Davies, he replied "me".
He said the prime minister could not continue "pussyfooting and fannying around forever" on the issue, claiming Heathrow could never go-ahead. "I don't believe it's politically deliverable, I don't see how it's going to happen, I just don't see how you'd get it through," he said.
In other words, because of the hugely sensitive and political nature of the issue, the entire affair is surrounded by allegations of stitch ups and nobbling, none of which have managed to avert a likely political explosion which could land the prime minister with a damaging rebellion before the next election.
If Davies comes back next year and rules out Boris island, as many suspect he will on the grounds of cost, Johnson is bound to erupt and demand further investigations.
He is also likely to continue his campaign against any Heathrow expansion, for electoral reasons, in the run up to the next mayoral poll in 2016.
At the same time, the anti-Heathrow campaign led by Goldsmith will continue to press Cameron to say he will again offer a rock-solid election manifesto commitment not to go down that route.
If Cameron refuses, Goldsmith will resign and force a by-election. There have been suggestions that could allow Johnson to stand in the Richmond seat as his way back into parliament ready for a future leadership bid.
So the whole point of creating a Commission to submit its final decision after the 2015 election appears to have been missed. Cameron, and to some extent Labour, both hoped the move would kick the decision into the long grass and avoid a political bust-up before the poll.
But it seems that is now a forlorn hope.