Boris Johnson's broken promises on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail show how he views the North - Louise Haigh MP

After months and months of delays the Government has finally published its Integrated Rail Plan – and believe me, it wasn’t worth the wait.

Boris Johnson. Pic: PA.

The Prime Minister, when elected in 2019, made promises to people in the North of England. He persuaded many who had never voted Tory that he was committed to ‘levelling up’ the North, to investing in our public transport network and particularly in improving our creaking, Victorian, rail infrastructure.

The Government must have known they were on to a vote-winner because the Northern Powerhouse Rail project was promised no less than 60 times in the last seven years by the Tories and guaranteed in three manifestos on the trot. It promised to connect the cities of the North, to drive growth and investment so our area can achieve its true potential.

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The region has been betrayed on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail - The Yorkshire...

But we are achieving all this in spite of this Government, not because of it. There is no doubt we are losing out on investment because we are not well-connected; the route to London is still not electrified and as the fourth largest city in the UK, it is an absolute joke that we do not have a direct connection to an airport.

With the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan, we have seen what this government and the Prime Minister think of the North. And what’s more, we know what they think of their promises – helpful to get you through an election, to put on your leaflets and splash in their favourite newspapers, but not worth a fraction of the paper they’re written on.

I know many people don’t set much store in the promises of politicians and it’s times like these that prove it for them – Boris Johnson asked people to put their faith in him in return for investment and for the North to be given only what we deserve. This betrayal doesn’t just cost the North, it further erodes people’s faith and trust in our democracy.

What’s most baffling is that this decision comes in the middle of a global conversation about climate change. Everyone accepts that we must reduce our global carbon emissions and that means changing the way we travel. The Northern Powerhouse investment that we were promised would have taken 64,000 cars off the road and created 100,000 new jobs. Not only would this have made a significant contribution to reducing our emissions, it would have drastically improved quality of life.

In parts of Sheffield, people are forced to put up with air quality so bad it breaches legal limits.

In making the decision to stop HS2 in the East Midlands and not extend this into Sheffield and South Yorkshire, the Government has once again trampled over communities across the region.

Communities such as those on the Shimmer estate in Doncaster, who were forced to sell their homes in compulsory purchase orders. They are now asking, what was all this upheaval and heartache for?

And of course, the contrast with investment in London and the South-East could not be starker, where hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on Crossrail and electric trains. If this Government had invested at the same rate, in the North, as they have in London and the South-East, we would have received more than £60bn.

No amount of spin can disguise the fact that the Government has not given South Yorkshire what we were promised. We won’t have the capacity or the connections that we need to compete. Could there be any greater symbol of this Government’s disdain for our area that their flagship rail line literally stops as it hits the Midlands?

We need a Government that is interested in governing the whole country and just as importantly, keeps its word. A Prime Minister who understands that promises to the British people are not just to be relied on to get you through elections but must be kept if we are to restore faith in politics.

This sorry saga tells us everything we needed to know about Boris Johnson’s attitude to the North and his extremely distant relationship with the truth.

Louise Haigh is Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.