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Sadiq Khan To Join Meeting Of Northern Mayors In A Bid To Save HS2

Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham pictured in 2020 (Alamy)

3 min read

Sadiq Khan is expected to join a meeting of northern leaders including Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on Wednesday in a new bid to push back on Rishi Sunak's anticipated plan to scale back HS2.

PoliticsHome understands that the mayor of London has been invited to the cross-party board meeting of Transport for the North, which includes the mayors of northern regions and is meeting on Wednesday. 

It is the first time Khan will speak at one of these regular meetings. It is widely anticipated that the Prime Minister could be about to cancel or delay the high-speed line from Birmingham to Manchester. While Downing Street has refused to comment on "speculation" about HS2, they have not moved to deny that it could be scaled back.

Earlier this year it was confirmed that services into central London’s Euston station would be delayed, with plans for the line to terminate at Old Oak Common in the western suburbs.

Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, Khan is expected to gather with fellow Labour mayors including Burnham, as well as Tracy Brabin, mayor of West Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard, mayor of South Yorkshire, and Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, who are all due to attend the meeting. 

A source familiar with the plans described the move as a “show of force” and that Khan's support of fellow regional leaders was a "really positive step”. 

On Monday, Khan tweeted that “an HS2 that is just a train line from Birmingham to Old Oak Common will be a policy failure on epic levels”. 

He added: “The government must seriously reconsider their plans and ensure that HS2 is completed in full.” 

Yesterday PoliticsHome reported that Sunak could face opposition from his own backbenches if any delay or scrapping of the Manchester leg of the HS2 project means that legislation making its way through Parliament is thrown out. 

John Stevenson, chair of the Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs told PoliticsHome that government “cannot and must not” get rid of the bill that would allow for the high-speed railway line to be built between Manchester and Crewe because within the legislation are provisions that would help the east west railway line across the north, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) be built. 

On Monday, Liverpool mayor Rotheram told PoliticsHome that “every secretary of state has made it abundantly clear that NPR was predicated on HS2 being successful”. 

Rotheram said that his “plea” to the government would be:  “If they are genuine about ensuring that the latent potential in the north can be released, then they need to ensure connectivity north-south, but equally as important is connectivity west - east.” 

 

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