Boris Johnson’s Integrated Rail Plan and Andrew Gilligan’s undue influence – The Yorkshire Post says

IF Boris Johnson believes his so-called Integrated Rail Plan will still deliver ‘Crossrail for the North’ – the assertion that he made to the CBI’s annual conference – the Prime Minister has either been deceived by his advisors or not studied the detail.

Which is it, Mr Johnson? Crossrail is the £19bn high-speed line across London where trains will operate every five minutes. By contrast, the much-promised link between Leeds and Manchester will competely bypass Bradford and instead make use of existing infrastructure on this side of the Pennines. It is Crossrail in name only.

And the temerity of the PM to blame the media for misrepresenting his new plan at the end of a shambolic, rambling and incoherent speech will only undermine confidence after failing to impress his audience over Northern Powerhouse Rail, scrapping the HS2 eastern leg to Leeds and green energy.

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But what hope is there when the PM’s key advisor on transport is former BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan who first came to the public’s attention with his report on the Blair government’s so-called ‘dodgy dossier’ over the Iraq war and which, in turn, led to the tragic death of scientist Dr David Kelly and the Hutton inquiry.

Boris Johnson during the CBI annual conference when he claimed that 'Crossrail for the North' will still be built.

Irrespective of Mr Gilligan’s prowess as a journalist before becoming London’s cycling commissioner during Mr Johnson’s second term as mayor of the capital, little in his background – he studied history at Cambridge University – suggests that he has the necessary expertise in engineering to be guiding the PM on rail policy.

A noted critic of HS2, Mr Gilligan’s involvement in this cavalier betrayal of the North is a disturbing reminder about the extent to which the PM is in awe of favoured advisers and in denial about the Integrated Rail Plan’s feasibility. Put simply, this is no way to run a government – never mind the fifth largest economy in the world.

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Pressure continues to mount on Boris Johnson to rethink the Integrated Rail Plan after the downgrading of Northern Powerhouse Rail and decision to scrap the eastern leg of HS2.
Now Boris Johnson's transport adviser, Andrew Gilligan first came to prominence over his reporting about the Blair government's so-called 'dodgy dossier' surrounding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.