David Cameron is facing opposition to the Government’s high-speed rail plans from within his own family after his father-in-law warned it would “ruin the lives of thousands”.
Lord Astor, a Conservative peer and stepfather of the Prime Minister’s wife Samantha, also provoked outrage among MPs in the North when he said the plan was backed largely by “northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed”.
He said the need for the £32.7 billion scheme could be bypassed by modern communications and urged Transport Secretary Justine Greening to “compare HS2 with cheaper options and look at how those savings could be spent on other transport needs”.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves dismissed the former minister’s comments. “It’s very disappointing that Lord Astor is trying to politicise high speed rail like this, the reality is it will benefit the whole country,” she said.
Amid bitter opposition from countryside campaigners, predominantly in the South, and some Tory MPs, Ms Greening has announced that more of the London-Birmingham phase of the project would go through tunnels to minimise the impact on the landscape.
The scheme will, by 2026, see trains get from London to Birmingham in just 45 minutes. A second phase to Manchester and Leeds will be built by 2033.
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