Is Boris gung-ho or skeptical on HS2?

Boris Johnson is proving to be something of a chameleon on HS2.

According to the Birmingham Mail, Boris Johnson has already asked former HS2 Chair Douglas Oakervee to do a review of HS2, apparently telling a private hustings event that “I have already asked provisionally Douglas Oakervee, who was the original chair of Crossrail, to have a look at the business case for HS2 and to think about whether and how we proceed.”

Meanwhile he’s told Andrea Leadsom that he’s skeptical: with Andrea telling LBC “And the third thing which is more nuanced really is that he and I share a scepticism about the HS2 project on the grounds of value for money.”

And he told Conservative Home – the website popular with the Tory party members that will get the final vote – that “We need a proper and urgent review to test whether the money could be spent differently – and in particular whether we should prioritise HS3/ Northern Powerhouse rail.”

It’s not good enough to ask the former Chair of HS2 Ltd to review HS2.

HS2 does need to be reviewed, but it needs an impartial, root and branch review of the project that looks properly at the costs of HS2, the overall business and economic case and asks the question that has really been ignored so far: is HS2 really the best way of spending £55.6 bn, when there are so many alternatives for that money?

A review like this would properly include input from the Treasury, and would be expected to take into account the zero based capital review currently being undertaken by Liz Truss.

However, there is currently intense lobbying of the Conservative leadership candidates going on from the people who will be making lots of money if HS2 goes ahead, as Tim Wood told the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Conference earlier today.

So, with that in mind, it is vital that our supporters, who want HS2 to be cancelled, to get involved in the debates and leadership hustings and ask all Conservative candidates for Prime Minister to commit to cancelling HS2.

If they aren’t willing to cancel it on taking office, we call on them to

  • pause all HS2 enabling works until it gets Notice to Proceed
  • undertake an urgent impartial review of HS2
  • pay money owing to the people who have already lost homes and businesses to HS2

Right now, leadership candidates are listening to the public: it is vital that as many of our supporters as possible tell them we don’t want HS2.

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