On the day when a Yougov poll shows that the public mood is against HS2, MPs vote for a unlimited blank cheque to spend on high speed rail. The vote was 350 Ayes to 34 Noes.
Following a week when the government pulled out all the stops to incite the public to support yet another HS2 ‘fightback’, with scare stories of years of disruption on the railways if HS2 is not built, a Yougov poll showed that 53% of the public opposes HS2, with 40% of the public preferring increasing existing capacity ‘even if this requires long term disruption to weekend train services’ to building HS2, the more expensive option.
Speaking after the vote, Penny Gaines chair of Stop HS2 said
“In a week when the Government has pulled out all the stops in an attempt to bolster the case for HS2, it is not surprising that the blank cheque bill was voted through. We thank all of those MPs from around the country who voted against the Paving bill.
“What is more telling is that on a policy that officially the three main parties support, there were so many MPs staying away from the vote. We know that some of the MPs who voted for it, did so in the erroneous belief that without the Paving Bill there would be no compensation for affected residents.
“This is no clear mandate for going ahead with HS2, however the government will chose to spin it.
“What’s more, the Government is losing credibility. By trying to claim that speed is irrelevant but that any new railway has to be high speed, ordinary people are realising that HS2 is a shiny new toy for politicians egos, not a realistic answer to current transport issues.”
Joe Rukin, the Stop HS2 campaign manager said:
“The number of MPs who stayed away from this vote shows the battle for HS2 is far from over and today’s result shows the hybrid bill is in for a rough ride.
“We’re disappointed that while lots of MPs have said there is no blank cheque for HS2, that is exactly what they have voted for.
“The latest yougov polling shows that HS2 is just another example of the disconnect between politicians and the public with only 27% of the public supporting Whitehall’s white elephant. They are not buying the spin that upgrading existing lines would be too disruptive. The public want value for money and rail services they can actually use.”