Whitehall sources have revealed that the new government are currently reviewing all projects, as a result of David Camerons insistence that Brexit would not happen. It appears that he was so sure that the UK would vote to stay in the EU, that government departments were told not to bother drawing up contingency plans in case of a Leave vote.
This has meant that the referendum result, and the subsequent change in government has caused more upheaval in Whitehall than is normally caused by a General Election. Normally, when there is a change in government, the Civil Service have time to prepare. When there is an election coming up, they will talk to the politicians who could become the new government to get an idea what their priorities will be, so they can develop a ‘Plan B’, but this time that hasn’t happened.
This fact may well explain Theresa Mays decision to set up a sub-committee of cabinet, consisting of about half of them, to look specifically the economy and industry. When this committee was announced, the Prime Minister said:
“If we are to take advantages of the opportunities presented by Brexit, we need to have our whole economy firing.”
“That is why we need a proper industrial strategy that focuses on improving productivity, rewarding hardworking people with higher wages and creating more opportunities for young people so that, whatever their background, they go as far as their talents will take them.”
“We also need a plan to drive growth up and down the country – from rural areas to our great cities.”
The idea that May is looking to have an actual strategy to deliver growth, instead of soundbites such as the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and the ‘Midlands Engine’, has got to be bad news for HS2, which not only provides exceptionally poor value for money before any further cost increases come along, but all international evidence shows that HS2 would simply reinforce the economic dominance of London, at the expense of the regions.
It very much seems that all bets are off.