The CBI is facing a stern test of its authority as the main voice of business after its supportive stance on Heathrow’s expansion was undermined by a band of prominent executives.

Ministers have claimed for months that the scheme has the solid support of business groups such as the British Chambers of Commerce, CBI and London First.

But cracks in that unified front have appeared after a letter calling for a halt to the third runway – in favour of more high-speed rail – was signed by 13 business leaders. They include James Murdoch, head of News Corporation in Europe and Asia, Justin King, chief executive of J Sainsbury and Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher.

Financial Times