Inside Politics: PM accused of ‘betraying’ north with rail plan

Some 20 million set for scaled back proposals as northern MPs and civic leaders accuse Johnson of not delivering on what he promised, writes Matt Mathers

Friday 19 November 2021 08:28

Northern Tories have accused the PM of “betraying” their region with his scaled-down rail plans. There were undoubtedly some positives in yesterday’s integrated review: journey times between some major cities – including Manchester and London – will be slashed and there are improved links for the Midlands. But it’s the lack of connectivity across the north that has voters, civic leaders and MPs there angry. A pledge to build a high-speed, east-west line across the north, connecting Manchester with Bradford and Leeds, has been derailed and the eastern leg of HS2 put on the scrap heap. Downing Street has promised to cut journey times across the region but these improvements are unlikely to deliver on reliability and capacity in the same way that a new line would have. Whatever way No 10 tries to spin upgrades for the north, they are not what was promised and appear to have added to a growing sense that the PM is not serious about “levelling up” and that northerners are always at the back of the queue when it comes to investment. Huw Merrian, the Tory MP who chairs the transport committee, accused Johnson of “selling perpetual sunlight and then leaving it for others to explain the arrival of moonlight”. Voters who took a chance on Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda might now be wondering if they were in fact sold a pup at the 2019 election.

Inside the bubble

Commons sits from 9.30am with several private members’ bills being heard.

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