'Blue Wall' Tory MPs pile pressure on Boris Johnson to scrap HS2 after damning reports
A group of new Conservative MPs from the north of England have called on the Prime Minister to cancel HS2 after reports this week showed the project is a decade behind schedule.
Six of the new Tory intake, representing constituencies like Rother Valley and Bolsover, feature in a video calling for greater local investment to replace the London to Birmingham service.
In the video, created by the HS2 Review Group, which is a parliamentary bloc against the project, 14 Conservative MPs say it has “no benefit”, and will have a “devastating impact” on their constituencies.
It is the latest escalation in the Conservative Party’s internal row over the project, and comes in a week where the line’s spiralling costs have been highlighted.
Andy Carter, MP for Warrington South, says in the video: “I’m calling on ministers to review the plans for HS2 and to put more focus and more emphasis on improving rail connectivity here in the northwest of England by investing in the second phase of Northern Powerhouse Rail 2, which links Liverpool to Manchester.
“That will make a real difference for people living here in Warrington South.”
Dehenna Davison, the new MP for Bishop Auckland, says her constituents “don’t really need HS2, but we’ll all be paying for it.”
Mark Fletcher, who won Bolsover from Labour’s Dennis Skinner in December, says: “HS2 will have a devastating impact on my constituency and we’ll feel very few of the benefits. We need to invest in local transport schemes.”
Draft findings from a review into HS2 were leaked last week, and suggested that its costs could hit £106bn, almost double the original budget of £56bn.
The leaked draft, however, shows that the chairman of the Oakervee report, Douglas Oakervee, still supports the project.
HS2 was dealt a further blow yesterday, with the National Audit Office (NAO) releasing their own report saying the project was a decade behind schedule.
They concluded that the Department for Transport (DfT) and HS2 Ltd, who are building the rail line, “underestimated the complexity of the programme”, and based forecasts on a “basic design”.
The report added: “In not fully and openly recognising the programme’s risks from the outset, the department and HS2 Ltd have not adequately managed the risks to value for money.”
Despite calls for the project to be scrapped, a government minister yesterday said that railways are “for our children and our children’s children”, signalling that construction could continue.
Baroness Vere of Norbiton, a transport minister, said: “Thinking back nearly 200 years to the 1830s, our predecessors were here debating not one, two or three but four new major train lines.”
She continued: “I have no doubt that at that time there were challengers, critic and naysayers, but I doubt that they had any idea of the impact that their determination and courage would have on their children’s generation any many generations thereafter.”
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “A draft of the Oakervee Report was delivered shortly before Christmas. The Transport Secretary, Chancellor and Prime Minister will take a final decision on HS2 shortly.”