Labor is in disarray over its plans for HS2 as the shadow minister contradicts colleagues who have committed to completing the project in full.
By David Churchill Chief Political Correspondent
20:13 19 September 2023, updated 20:18 19 September 2023
- Tulip Siddiq contradicted what her colleagues had said a few hours earlier about HS2
Labor was in disarray over HS2 today after its policy on the future of the high-speed rail project changed four times in the space of days.
Tulip Siddiq became the latest shadow minister to contradict what her colleagues said just hours ago by refusing to commit to handing over the project in full.
She even playfully suggested that one of her colleagues who was fully committed to her probably “knows something I don’t know.”
The failure began on Friday when he committed in an outline to the party’s next manifesto to fully build HS2.
But Pat McFadden, Labour’s election campaign co-ordinator, said on Sunday the party would not commit to the project until the full extent of the cost overruns was known.
Yesterday this changed again, when shadow chancellor Nick Thomas-Symonds and transport spokesman Louise Hay pledged the party would build HS2 “in its entirety”.
But today, Mrs. Siddiq poured cold water on this situation.
Asked whether Labor would build HS2 “in its entirety” as Thomas Symonds pledged, she said: “I would not be the very responsible shadow treasurer if I didn’t look at the final costs and if I didn’t do that.” Ensure that the taxpayer was getting this value for money.
When asked why Thomas Symonds promised to build it all, she added: “Well, maybe he knows something I don’t know, but I want to see the full costs for what the final sum will actually be.” .
“I need to know the cost, because it’s not just about cost, it’s also about practicalities. If there is a real reason why some parts of HS2 are now being abandoned, we want to know that.
“There may be a lot of revised costs as well.” I wouldn’t be very responsible if I said at this point that we want to commit to everything without knowing the full facts. Fully building HS2 would not only mean linking London to Birmingham and Manchester, but also connecting Birmingham to Leeds via the ‘East Station’.
The government scrapped this in 2021 to save money amid fears its completion would send the total bill past £100bn.
However, there are question marks over whether high-speed trains will reach Manchester.
Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are in discussions about canceling the Birmingham-Manchester match in a bid to save up to £34bn.
The proposals have been given a special code name, Project Redwood, The Independent reported. However, the website also reported that senior ministers had become “appalled” by the reaction to the proposals, with the government accused of “abandoning” the North.
Terminating the line to London early was also considered.
Instead of terminating at London Euston, trains could stop at Old Oak Common, six miles away.
This means passengers have to get off at West London station and connect to the new Elizabeth Line, also known as Crossrail, to take them into central London.
Government sources said that no final decisions have been made.
A budget of £55.7bn was set for the entire HS2 system in 2015. But the cost target has swelled to as much as £71bn, excluding the eastern section which was scrapped in 2021. This has been canceled amid fears the final cost could rise to More than a pound sterling. 100 billion.
The delay also means that high-speed trains will not reach Manchester until at least 2040 even if the connection with Birmingham goes ahead.
The business has been contacted for comment.
The Treasury directed The Independent to Mr Hunt’s comments last week, in which he said: “It would expect the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have discussions about how to manage these cost overruns.”
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