In the list of HS2 cheerleaders, certain people in Manchester and Liverpool come high up the list.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, has been a prominent supporter, appearing as the opposition witness against me in the ‘Moral Maze’ debate on Radio 4, as well as taking numerous other opportunities.
Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, went as far as offering £2 billion to part-fund an extension of HS2 to Liverpool earlier this year: the Liverpool link was part of the original plans but was dropped long before the Phase 2 route was announced.
But things in those cities will be changing with new Mayors due to be voted next May. And this week, the Labour party selected their two candidates – and neither supports HS2.
Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh, candidate for Manchester Mayor, has long been an HS2 skeptic, as we have previously reported. For instance, during last year’s Labour leadership campaign, he said that east-west links are more important than HS2.
But what of Steve Rotheram MP, (Liverpool, Walton). If you look at his website, he wrote an article praising HS2 in January 2012 – when Justine Greening announced the results of the first HS2 consultation.
But since then he has become increasing skeptical. According to the PublicWhip website, he has managed to abstain from every HS2 vote.
In fact in an interview last week with ITV news he explicitly said “I’m not in favour of HS2”. He went onto say that he doesn’t think it would get to the north-west and – like Andy Burnham – thinks that east-west links are more important.