HS2: Northern newspapers unite as part of setback to Boris Johnson’s cut in rail projects | Politics news

Boris Johnson is facing a setback from MPs, mayors and a coordinated local newspaper campaign as he is ready to scrap the eastern part of the HS2 railway project between Birmingham and Leeds.

The Prime Minister is expected this week to confirm a dilution of plans for both HS2 and a new Leeds to Manchester railway line.

Ahead of an expected cut in projects, which are likely to be confirmed when the government’s “Integrated Rail Review” is published on Thursday, Mr Johnson has been angered by northern politicians.

Tracy Brabin, the Labor mayor of West Yorkshire, wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to continue to supply HS2’s eastern legs “completely”, as well as to build a new railway line from Leeds to Manchester.

Following reports that the Leeds-Manchester section of the £ 39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail project will be delivered through upgrades to existing tracks, rather than a new line via Bradford, Mrs Brabin wrote: “The government has a choice to make.

“It may choose to unleash the potential in the Nordics, or it may fail us again, limiting your ambitions to level off.”

South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis said ministers “were either serious about reaching a level or not” and warned that those he represents “will not be fooled by half measures and spin”.

Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, representing Thirsk and Malton in North Yorkshire, told the newspaper in that a downscaling of railway plans would show the government “is not willing to put our money where our mouth is”.

Labor’s Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, said: “This is Boris pulling the whole damn rug under our feet and tearing the floor up behind him.”

Picture:
The eastern part of HS2, from Birmingham to Leeds, stands to be scrapped

Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon accused ministers of trying to “quietly back out” of infrastructure schemes they had “committed to dozens of times”.

In his Conservative Party conference speech last month, Mr Johnson promised: “We will make the Northern Powerhouse Rail, we will connect the cities of the Midlands and the North.”

Last February, on HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse Rail, Mr Johnson told MPs: “Both are needed and both will be built – as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.”

In addition to the backlash from politicians, a streak of northern newspapers published the same front page on Tuesday, urging the government to deliver on the Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in full.

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One of these newspapers, the Manchester Evening News, said on its website: “Today, the Nordic region calls on the government to finally put its money where its mouth is.

“With ministers ready to announce their long-delayed plan for rail investment this week, we warn that it is time to replace rhetoric with reality when it comes to the north of England.

“Enough is enough. The Prime Minister has been prepared to use chronic central government neglect of the north of England to his political advantage. It’s time to keep his side of the deal.

“When it comes to rail investments, that does not mean a tinge of piecemeal upgrades dressed up as a transport revolution, ready to spread on leaflets at the next election.

“It means new lines between cities to and across the north, a step supported by both northern leaders and the conservative manifesto.”

The Manchester Evening News was joined in the campaign by five other newspapers; The Gazette in Teesside, The Journal and The Chronicle in Newcastle, the Huddersfield Examiner and the Hull Daily Mail.

At a news conference in Downing Street on Monday, the Prime Minister advised people to “wait and see” the results of the Integrated Rail Review on Thursday.

But he said it would be “absolutely fantastic” for the North, Northeast, Northwest and Midlands.

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