HS2 project opposed by “half the cabinet” Tory MP claims
A Tory MP has claimed that “half the Cabinet” want to abandon the HS2 rail programme and has called for a review into the “disastrous” project.
Sir Bill Cash called HS2 “fundamentally flawed” and called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to “stop throwing money down a black hole and put the brakes on this vanity project before it leaves the station”.
The MP for Stone, wearing his HS2 white elephant badge, said there was now “gathering momentum” to scrap the scheme which had “already charged the British taxpayer over £4bn before construction has even started”.
The latest round of criticism follows similar comments from MPs in January who said that the cost of the project was ballooning while slamming its environmental impact.
Speaking during his Westminster Hall debate on HS2, Cash said: “If the situation was not so serious I would congratulate the HS2 executives for their role in constructing the most amazing gravy train that was ever built in the UK, with a quarter of HS2 staff paid over £100,000 in the last year and the chief executive taking home £600,000.”
Cash added: “When the public don’t support HS2 as, we have seen, environmental groups are up in arms, now that half the Cabinet want to chuck it so it would appear, it’s time to call it a day. The Chancellor needs to stop throwing money down a black hole and put the brakes on this vanity project before it leaves the station".
“It is a dying white elephant, or certainly should be, and I now believe there are grounds for having a full review by the Transport and other select committees as appropriate, and a full 2005 Act inquiry into this disastrous project.”
However, Labour’s Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) backed HS2, arguing it was a project of national importance providing investment in the north. Sir Robert Syms, the Conservative MP for Poole, also voiced support, stating HS2 would be a spine up the country, providing regeneration.
Shadow Transport Minister Rachael Maskell called for transparency over the costs as she accused the Government of not getting the basics right on rail.
Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said the Government was committed to HS2 and there was a strategic case for it as the current train network was running at almost completely full capacity. She claimed HS2 would greatly increase capacity, provide faster journey times and better connectivity, and help to rebalance the economy, adding: “We want it to turbo-charge economic growth that is shared by the entire country allowing transport to open up new work and study opportunities boosting the prospects of millions.”
In July Hitachi Rail and Bombardier Transportation entered into a joint bid to make trains for the new service in a contract worth £2.75bn.