Keir Starmer Slams Boris Johnson Over HS2 Plans

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will publish Integrated Rail Plan on Thursday

  • The plan is expected to axe the proposed HS2 line from Birmingham to Leeds

  • Also concerns Government's Northern Powerhouse Rail will be watered down

  • Sir Keir Starmer today asked Boris Johnson if he will 'stand by' his rail promises

  • PM said Labour leader must 'wait and see' what is in the plan when it is published 

  • Tory MPs have warned Mr Johnson of backlash if he does not honour promises 

  • By Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline

    Published: | Updated:

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    Sir Keir Starmer today accused Boris Johnson of breaking 'important promises' he made to the north of England after the PM failed to rule out watering down the Government's high speed rail proposals.  

    The eastern leg of the HS2 high speed rail route between Birmingham and Leeds is expected to be axed when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps unveils the Government's Integrated Rail Plan tomorrow. 

    There is also mounting anger that a pledge to boost east-west rail connections across the region, known as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), will likely involve improvements to existing infrastructure rather than a new line between Manchester and Leeds. 

    Sir Keir asked Mr Johnson at Prime Minister's Questions if he will 'stand by' the rail promises he has made.  

    But the PM would not be drawn, telling the Labour leader he must 'wait and see' what is in the investment plan when it is published.  

    Mr Johnson insisted the plan will be 'fantastic' and people in the north of England will 'benefit massively from what we are going to announce'. 

    Downing Street has said improving rail links in the north of England is an 'absolute priority' for the PM amid mounting anger among Tory MPs at the prospect of the Government backtracking on past pledges. 

    Jake Berry, the former Northern Powerhouse minister and now the chairman of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, said this morning that the PM had made a 'personal commitment' to deliver for the north of England. 

    Mr Berry said 'commitments made by prime ministers matter' as he appeared to fire a warning shot at the premier. 

    Boris Johnson Keir Starmer

    Sir Keir Starmer today accused Boris Johnson of breaking 'important promises' he made to the north of England after the PM failed to rule out watering down the Government's high speed rail proposals

    Jake Berry, the former Northern Powerhouse minister and now the chairman of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, said this morning that the PM had made a 'personal commitment' to deliver for the north of England

    Jake Berry, the former Northern Powerhouse minister and now the chairman of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, said this morning that the PM had made a 'personal commitment' to deliver for the north of England

    The Prime Minister is facing fury from Tory Red Wall MPs who fear a hammering at the ballot box if the Government weakens the rail commitments it has made to the region. 

    Mr Johnson pledged his 'commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail' shortly after entering Downing Street in 2019. 

    The 2019 Tory manifesto stated that 'we will build Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester and then focus on Liverpool, Tees Valley, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle'. 

    Mr Johnson repeated the pledge in his Conservative Party conference speech this year, telling Tory activists: 'We will do Northern Powerhouse rail. We will link up the cities of the Midlands and the north.' 

    Sir Keir raised the issue at PMQs at lunchtime as he asked Mr Johnson if he intends to 'stick by' his promises. 

    The Labour leader said: ‘Trust matters and after the last fortnight the Prime Minister has got a lot of work to do.

    ‘A central plank of this Government’s promise to the north of England is a Crossrail for the north with at least an entirely new high speed rail line between Manchester and Leeds.

    ‘A Crossrail for the north, an entirely new line. That is the promise. It has already been made so I don’t want the Prime Minister fobbing off the House about waiting until tomorrow, he can say today: Will he stick by that promise, yes or no?’

    Mr Johnson replied: ‘He should wait and see what is going to be announced tomorrow. We will produce a fantastic Integrated Rail Plan and I am not going to spoil it for the House, why would I.’

    The PM's comments prompted laughter and heckles from the Labour benches as the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle intervened to call for quiet.

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    Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10211701/Northern-Tories-warn-Boris-Johnson-not-water-HS2.html

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