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Thu, 2 April 2020

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Boris Johnson 'orders emergency summit' on HS2 amid Tory splits over spiralling costs

Boris Johnson 'orders emergency summit' on HS2 amid Tory splits over spiralling costs
2 min read

Boris Johnson has ordered an emergency summit of ministers ahead of a crunch decision on the future of the troubled High Speed Rail 2 project.


The Sun on Sunday reports that the Prime Minister will call in Chancellor Sajid Javid and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps for a meeting this week amid mounting pressure from some Tory MPs to junk HS2.

The summit comes after clutch of reports flagged its spiralling budget and delayed timetable.

The Prime Minister will reportedly tell the pair: "Let’s get this settled."

Conservative MPs are divided over whether to press ahead with the line, with an official report from the National Audit Office saying the project was a decade behind schedule. 

The watchdog 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”. 

That followed the leak of a draft review into the project which suggested its costs could hit £106bn - almost double its original budget.

A batch of MPs from the new Conservative intake have already voiced their opposition to HS2, which would connect 10 of the UK's largest cities including London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

But 80 Conservative MPs have asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister to urge him to press ahead with the rail link.

Former minister Andrew Mitchell told The Sun on Sunday: "It’s very clear that our economic future and well-being are inextricably linked with HS2."

It comes as rail industry figures told The Observer that scrapping HS2 could cost at least £12bn in write-offs and compensation.

And Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, warned: "We went into paralysis while we sorted out how we were going to sort out Brexit.

"We are just coming through that, making our great statements about Global Britain open to the world, and what’s the next thing we do? We lose our nerve on probably the best demonstration of our self-confidence."

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