Cameron says he’ll cancel HS2 if Labour u-turn

The same day as The Sun revealed that Labour have given HS2 sceptic a veto on their party’s support of the project, David Cameron has told Politics Home that the project “can’t go ahead without all party support”.

This comes ahead of a vote in Parliament next week on the HS2 Paving Bill which asks for MPs to effectively sign a blank cheque for design work on both phases of the project, due to escalating costs. Following increasingly scathing reports on HS2 from cross-party bodies such as the Public Accounts Committee and Treasury Select Committee, Mr Balls today told BBC Radio Five Live:

“If the case is clear, the benefits are strong, it’s the best way to spend the money and the costs are under control, at that point I would be happy to say we’ll support it. But what I am not going to do is say we support it when the costs are rising, the benefits are unclear and the government are acting like cheerleaders rather than proper stewards of public money. That is not a road I am going to go down.”

Balls has consistently said that the costs for HS2 cannot continue to escalate, which today they have confirmed to have done, to a potential of up to £5.3bn, following the final confirmation that Wales has received Barnett consequential funding as a result of HS2 this week.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said;
“Over the last three years we have seen the costs of HS2 keep going up and the proposed benefits keep going down. This culminated with the revelation last weekend, that even though the Government paid KPMG quarter of a million to invent an untested model to bolster the case for HS2, they still had to hide the fact it was bad for many parts of the country. Finally we have had confirmation today that Wales has received top-up funding because of spending on HS2, and now this precedent has been set for Wales and surely Northern Ireland, the cost could go up another £5.3bn.”

“Ed Balls and his Labour colleagues have kept saying there can be ‘no blank cheque for HS2’, but a blank cheque is what MPs are due to vote on on Thursday. If they are true to their word they will vote against this white elephant at the earliest possible opportunity and put it out of its misery. It seems to us that David Cameron has finally realised what a daft idea HS2 is and is trying to play political games so he can drop HS2 and claim it was all Labour’s fault. Instead of engaging in punch and judy politics, he should have the courage to admit he was wrong and drop HS2 before more taxpayers money is wasted on his vanity project.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said,
“There is a clear shifting of the political atmosphere around HS2.  Politicians across the political spectrum are having a close look at the proposed railway, especially after the revelation that numerous local economies far away from the line will suffer if HS2 gets built.  What they are finding is that the business case for the railway is extremely shaky, that HS2 will damage the environment and that there are a lot better ways of spending £50 billion.

“With the latest government fightback, they are saying is that in spite of calling the project High Speed Two, and using an excessively fast design speed, the project has nothing to do with needing faster railways.  With the Paving bill next week asking for a blank cheque for a specifically high speed railway, it’s time that politicians accept the public have seen through the muddled thinking from the Department for Transport.  It’s time to cancel HS2 and stop wasting time and money on this boondangle.”

6 comments to “Cameron says he’ll cancel HS2 if Labour u-turn”
  1. Unless a new power station is hurriedly built it is unlikely there would be enough power for it.They are all playing a nasty game with the ,hard working people,as the slogan goes.Which is extreamly insulting when you see the MPs want an 11% wage rise and perks.
    Those who are not near the proposed line or affected as a named place not on it are likely to tow the party line to keep their jobs or to be
    inline for promotion.We should if there is any justice in this world ,be celebrating next week but now knowing that politics is such a dirty game I will not hold my breath.

  2. I agree Chris,
    I think this is planting in the press, political mindgames and posturing & that the plan remains very active.
    These are typical manipulations largely I should imagine to whip up any wavering support in In time for the Paving Bill, given the very negative press last week and nationally widespread losers.
    It is likely part of the new strategy. “unless you (labour) support HS2 you are betraying the Midlands and North.
    Remember this was the original political Con game in respect of trying to improve their position in the Midlands and North.
    In some ways reminiscent of the sorts of brinkmanship and games we have seen played out of late.
    As a member of the pro HS2 Lords said re HS2 “by the time its built we will all be dead. Its a legacy for our children Shame as they will not live to see the consequences of their environmental desruction and profigacy.

    • Or it could be setting expectations that this daft project is about to end and would allow the Tories to blame someone else. This very often happens in politics when a U turn is about to happen it doesn’t just come out of the blue.

    • As Chris and myself anticipated/predicted, political dark arts:
      “Rather than risking the blame for killing the project, Labour has decided to take the credit for saving it by forcing the government to reduce costs”

      The real issue about a high speed line through an AONB and SSI, sensitive rolling landscape is that it is very expensive to build, requires proper mitigation, sound protection and compensation for the victims of the development.
      The route requires revision more in keeping with Kent rules or revision as with central line proposal.
      But no, Westminster has been manipulated into “cost cutting” which will doubtless impact on design and compensation.
      Very clever. The nation cannot afford to build HS2 so the victims and lanscape will have to suffer in order that the
      flawed vanity project can be built and built with cost cutting compromises..the fat cats will still get theirs……….
      Vote the lot out and field anti HS2 indedendents for the upcoming local, euro and general elections not just on the route but in all the other areas that will have their economies damaged or who have been overlooked.
      No wonder some in scotland seek independence from such politics that epitomises Westminster.

  3. Dither is a poor leadership characterstic. Ego is another. HS2 planning was is haste and poorly balanced. It has been stubborly pursued with insufficient optioneering given the extreme land take requirement. The UK needs to recognise its limits,needs and what it can and cannot afford more objectively. Politics cannot answer all issues as the euro idea has demonstrated to Europe. Economics of the peoples wallets counts and most are poorer and stagnent with many out of work and many displaced from jobs.

  4. Doubful, these seem part of MP herding by two larger parties not serious propositions. Would suggest nothing has changed in the HS2 project, programme others than alternative ways to float decoys and diversions. All the envisaged rounds will be required for 15 months to demonstrate other options of lower cost aligned along the WCML MML and ECML with more and longer trains and some addtional tracks. All PR and tactical measures being used to create the illusion of weakening resolve by Coalition and Opposition. Not convincing currently much too early.

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