Cameron runs into a new critic of high-speed rail: his father-in-law
David Cameron is facing opposition to the Government's contentious high-speed rail plans from within his own family, with his father-in-law attacking the scheme in print.
Viscount Astor, a Conservative peer and stepfather of the Prime Minister's wife, Samantha, has lent his voice to opposition to the High Speed 2 network, accusing it of potentially "ruining the lives of thousands".
In an article for The Spectator, he said the planned HS 2 line from London to Birmingham was supported mostly by "northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed". He said the need for the £32.7bn scheme, given the green light this week by Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, could be bypassed by modern communications.
"There is a perfectly viable alternative, which... would be much cheaper and faster to take effect, without destroying a whole swath of countryside," he wrote. "Have they not heard of Skype and the internet?"
Lord Astor, a hereditary peer, suggested his son-in law was betraying the "core values" of a Conservative government by pursuing the scheme.
"I admit I am biased. I am biased in favour of the countryside. But I am also biased in favour of choice. Choice about how we protect our diminishing countryside. Choice about how we want to travel. But above all, choice about how we invest in our infrastructure to help Britain. And choice is a core value of this Conservative government."
He brushed aside the argument that Britain lagged behind high-speed rail links in countries like Saudi Arabia and Morocco. "Those countries do not have such well-developed separate rail or motorway networks," he writes. "Nor do they have our high population density. As TE Lawrence found, there is a lot of empty space in Saudi Arabia."
In pictures: Saturn images from Cassini probe as it prepares to turn lens towards Earth
New banker bonus boom: Payouts leapt 64% to new record when Chancellor George Osborne cut top-rate tax to 45p in April
'There's something quite unpleasant going on': Nigel Farage confronted for second time on visit to Scotland ahead of Donside by-election
Poor children are being let down by schools, warns Ofsted
World news in pictures
- 1 ‘Hello, NME? I’d like to complain about your Tom Odell review. Why? I’m his dad’
- 2 Richard Nieuwenhuizen death: Six teenagers and 50-year-old father convicted of manslaughter in shocking case of referee killed over a game of football
- 3 Exclusive: Newcastle United's star talent-spotter Graham Carr on brink as Joe Kinnear sparks walkout at St James' Park
- 4 Vast methane 'plumes' seen in Arctic ocean as sea ice retreats
- 5 From charmer to bully: My encounter with Charles Saatchi
TBC: Capital Refrigeration Services Ltd: Capital Refrigeration Services requir...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are currently recruiting fo...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: . Blackpool
£5520 - £31200 per annum: Randstad Education London: If you are then please ap...