Sorting by


The HS2 revelation could not be more disruptive for Rishi Sunak | Politics News

Downing Street struggled to be heard on the first day of Conservative conference in Manchester as a somewhat indistinct headline message struggled to break through unhelpful noises off from the fringe. 

Some 24 hours later Downing Street had completely lost control of the narrative as full-on chaos ensued. Tory mayor Andy Street was addressing hacks outside the prime minister’s hotel vowing to “fight” an imminent announcement to scrap HS2’s northern leg.

‘Rishi Reset’ derailed by HS2 – politics live

On Sunday night, Sky News and Politico – in the new Politics at Jack and Sam’s podcast – revealed plans had been drawn up to make an HS2 announcement at conference.

Number 10 was mulling plans for an emergency cabinet meeting, potential visit by the prime minister and an announcement all in and around the disused Manchester railway station that has been used as a conference.

The psychodrama around this announcement has been bubbling for nearly three weeks, with plenty of warnings the destination of the cancelled leg may not be the ideal location to say something about the issue.

Earlier today, I was told a decision had been made, suggesting this plan would soon be put into action. Finally government would soon be able to get off the issue of the cancellation and onto the rail, bus and road schemes they would spend the money freed up.

Half an hour later, Number 10 tried to put a lid on the stories of Sky and ITV News, saying: “These reports are incorrect. No final decisions have been taken on Phase 2 of HS2.”

However, in a sign of the limits of Number 10’s ability to influence the agenda, the story spiralled, with other newspapers all saying an announcement was poised.

Read more:
Has HS2 reached its terminal? – Paul Kelso analysis

Three main points from Hunt’s speech – Ed Conway analysis
Why are so many people upset with rail project?

The Number 10 statement was not technically incorrect – the decision was made at the heart of government’s inner sanctum and has not yet gone to cabinet – we would know if this had happened.

Therefore Number 10 could legitimately say that no final decision has been made, although the chance of any material change to the decision from where we are now is nil.

This revelation – as the chancellor was due on stage – could not be more disruptive for conference, meaning HS2 is eclipsing yet another day of the coverage.

Today was meant to be about the chancellor making long term difficult decisions, freezing civil service recruitment, tough new rules for benefit claimants and boosting the living wage.

Instead, he is facing a full-on confrontation with parts of his party over a line he has wanted all year to cancel at one of the most important pre-election platforms there is.

This is not how Number 10 would have wanted it to be.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button