HS2 minister fails to rule out that eastern leg between Leeds and Birmingham will be scrapped

The minister in charge of HS2 failed to rule out that the eastern leg will be scrapped.

UK Parliament undated handout photo of Andrew Stephenson (Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament)

It has been reported that financial pressures will mean that the Government will not go ahead with plans for the line between Birmingham and Leeds, but Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson did not take the opportunity to put those “scandalous” rumours to bed when asked in the House of Commons on Thursday morning.

Labour accused the Government of risking “another broken promise” as Shadow Transport Minister Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi recalled: “Last year the Prime Minister told this House the Government were ‘going to develop the eastern leg as well as the whole of HS2”.

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He went on: “When reports surfaced over the summer that ministers planned to mothball the eastern leg I was absolutely shocked.

“A u-turn, another broken promise from this Government surely not. So being the helpful person that I am, I want to help the Government put this scandalous rumour to bed once and for all.

“So can the minister confirm [...] can he confirm that the HS2 eastern leg will be built in full, on time and on budget?”

Responding, Mr Stephenson said that Government will publish it’s long-awaited Integrated Rail Plan “soon”.

He told the Commons: “The Integrated Rail Plan is progressing well and it is right, it is only right that ministers take time to fully consider all of the evidence from all of the stakeholders, regional leaders, the national infrastructure commission and the Government’s own analysis before making a decision.

“This is a cross Government decision and we intend to publish the Integrated Rail plan soon.”