Candidates in this month’s General Election have been warned that not backing HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail could cost them a seat in Parliament by an influential group of business and political leaders.
Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, gave the caution as it was revealed just 14 out of more than 250 candidates in Yorkshire had backed a pledge from group Connecting Britain to push for delivery of the two projects in full.
Connecting Britain argues that transforming connectivity from the Midlands to the North will help support economic growth, improve productivity, boost jobs and skills, increase prosperity and support a transition to a low-carbon economy.
And Mr Murison said: “In many marginal constituencies, despite the minor parties like the Greens and Brexit Party taking an extreme position against HS2 in particular despite the evidence, we have seen those most likely to become the next Member of Parliament taking the Connecting Britain pledge.”
Those who have signed the pledge so far are: Dan Jarvis (Labour, Barnsley Central), Judith Cummings (Labour, Bradford South), Anna Perrett (Labour, York Outer), Kevin Hollinrake (Conservative, Thirsk and Malton), Keith Aspden (Liberal Democrat, York Outer), John Grogan (Labour, Keighley), Jason McCartney (Conservative, Colne Valley), Robert Goodwill (Conservative, Scarborough and Whitby), Craig Whittaker (Conservative, Calder Valley), Diana Johnson (Labour, Hull North), Stuart Andrew (Conservative, Pudsey), Thelma Walker (Labour, Colne Valley), Jo Pike (Labour, Shipley), and Mark Dormer (Conservative, Leeds West).
Mary Creagh, Labour pick for Wakefield, is also expected to sign this week.
Mr Murison said: “Businesses have been resolute in making the case that we need HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail delivered in full, with the independent review commissioned by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership making a compelling case.”
He added: “The party manifestos have been published and if you are a Labour or Liberal Democrat candidate you are standing on a platform to back both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and apart from a few notable exceptions like Barry Sheerman in Huddersfield, that support is deeply felt and we expect many more to commit their backing in the coming days.
“There are also many high profile Conservatives such as Kevin Hollinrake and Stuart Andrew who, despite their Party’s slightly ambiguous policy, have backed HS2 as well as Northern Powerhouse Rail, but at the same time those like Philip Davies have not – and with Shipley still a marginal constituency Jo Pike’s backing for infrastructure may convince many that the Labour challenger is more committed to closing the North – South divide than her opponent.”
Mr Sheerman, Labour's pick for Huddersfield previously said he was "a fierce opponent of this £100 bn that is going to be wasted on HS2".
While Mr Davies, Tory candidate for Shipley, said the project was a "catastrophic waste of money" which will "only chiefly benefit London".
All parties have committed to backing Northern Powerhouse Rail, which would connect cities in the North.
But not all are so keen on HS2.
The project was the subject of a review by Douglas Oakervee, with a report due to be released by now, however this has now been delayed until after the election. It could recommend the whole project is scrapped, or simply parts of it - including the Leeds leg.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have both committed to continuing the build in their manifestos.
Boris Johnson said his “instincts” told him to support the scheme, despite there being no mention of it in the Tory manifesto.
The Brexit Party is against continuing the scheme and the Green have called it an "act of ecocide".