Daily Express - 23.08.2019

(Kiana) #1

12 Daily Express Friday, August 23, 2019


the new train is
causing a strain

Here’s how to put

HS2 on track to

benefit the North

One Canada Square, London E14 5AP
Tel: 020 8612 7000 (outside UK: +44 20 8612 7000)

Sickening treatment of

war heroes has to stop

Great start for Boris


ORCING almost a million Armed
Forces veterans to pay to watch TV
because of the BBC’s decision to scrap
the free licence for over-75s is truly
If there is one group of people who have
served their country, put their lives on the
line for our freedoms and are owed a debt
of gratitude by this country, it is the people
who served in the Armed Forces.
It is believed that more than 100,000 of
these distinguished citizens are in their 90s.
The idea that these people should now be
taxed to fund the millionaire lifestyles of
BBC presenters such as Gary Lineker is a
national disgrace.
It is not too late for the BBC to see sense
and seek other savings or for the
Government to work with the national
broadcaster to find a solution to this
If things continue to head in the way the
BBC has laid out, then we could see elderly
people who fought for this country being
hauled before the courts because they have
failed to pay this £154.50 tax.
Such an outcome could destroy the
nation’s confidence in the BBC. So it is in
everybody’s interests to sort this out.


HAT a great week this has been for
Boris Johnson. The new Prime
Minister has successfully reached
out to Europe’s two most powerful
politicians – Germany’s Chancellor Angela
Merkel and France’s President Emmanuel
It is clear that his approach of replacing
the Northern Ireland backstop with
alternative arrangements is the correct one.
And, while there is still some hesitancy in
the words of Merkel and Macron, we can
see from their comments that finally
common sense is beginning to prevail.
The threat of a no deal in the end is far
more damaging for the EU than it is for
Britain and both these seasoned
international leaders must realise that.
Time is short but there can be some
optimism that a deal can still be done
whether it is in the next 30 days or not.
One thing we know is that the EU prefers
last-minute deals. Mr Johnson’s hardline
tactic of showing Britain is ready for no
deal is the only thing that will change
minds in Brussels.

Heir’s no airs and graces


HERE has been much said about
royals and flights after the criticism of
the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and
their four private jets in 11 days. So
how refreshing to see the future King,
Prince William, and his family take a £
Flybe flight to jet off on their holiday.
Such moves provide a much-needed
common touch for the Royal Family and set
a great example.

‘Imagine a new golden triangle for

our transport infrastructure’

Patrick O’Flynn

Political commentator


S A longstanding
opponent of the HS
scheme to whizz busi-
ness executives down
to London from the
north of England frac-
tionally quicker than is possible
at present, I was cheered by the
announcement this week of an
independent review into the
£100billion project.
But it didn’t take long to
work out that this review is
most unlikely to result in Boris
Johnson and his Transport
Secretary Grant Shapps pulling
the plug on the whole shebang.
For a start, it is going to be
chaired by Douglas Oakervee, a
highly respected civil engineer
who just happens to be the
former chairman of HS2 Ltd.
For Mr Oakervee to conclude
that HS2 is not worth pursuing
would be tantamount to asking
someone to accept that the
cause he spent years of his life
promoting passionately was a
load of old baloney.


R SHAPPS gave the
game away rather
when he was pressed
by interviewers to confirm that
the review could result in a
pulling of the plug, repeatedly
avoiding saying so, relying
instead on the assertion that the
Government “wants to build
great infrastructure”.
So what is going on? There
are two possibilities. One is that
Boris Johnson has decided that
just dangling the idea that he

might scrap HS2 will be very
helpful for his prospects in an
early election – both in Tory-
held seats north-west of
London that are up in arms
about the environmental impact
and in Labour-held marginals
across the North where people
might imagine the money saved
would be ploughed into
transport schemes in their own
localities instead.
Having a review in progress
will also enable Mr Johnson to
avoid making a firm declaration
either way when it comes to a
Tory manifesto. However, there
is a more hopeful scenario. It
isn’t that the review really will
recommend abandoning the
scheme. Rather, it is of a recon-
figuring its delivery.
At the moment, a high-speed
track from London Euston to
Birmingham is scheduled to be
the first phase, with routes
going on from Birmingham to
the North-west and to Yorkshire
being labelled as Phase 2a and
Phase 2b respectively.
But if the Prime Minister is
serious about his administration
rebalancing the British econ-

omy then it cannot be right for
by far our biggest new transport
infrastructure scheme to be so
London-focused. Instead, the
review could reverse the phas-
ing, thereby delivering faster
journeys not primarily to the
capital, but from Birmingham
to Manchester and Birmingham
to Leeds. The Birmingham to
London bit could be kicked into
longer grass.
Suddenly Mr Johnson would
have a scheme that connected
the Northern Powerhouse to
the Midlands Engine and given
his flair for communication a
terrific “retail offer” for voters
in dozens of marginal seats.
Now determined critics
would still argue – with some
justification – that in fact the
enormous HS2 budget would
be far better spent on scores of
less eye-catching local infra-
structure schemes including
better bus services.
But a desire to be less eye-
catching is not really a Boris
Johnson trait and as a totemic
signal that the Conservatives
are throwing off their Home
Counties blinkers, a reversal of

the sequencing of HS2 would
take some beating.
If the review were to post-
pone the Birmingham to
London section for a significant
period, then funds could also be
switched into cracking on with
a proposed new high-speed line
between Manchester and
Leeds, an idea hitherto referred
to as “HS3”.


MAGINE a new golden
triangle for transport
infrastructure, with
Birmingham at the southern tip
and Manchester and Leeds the
northern base. Not only would
it have a large economic impact,
but a large political impact too.
Boris Johnson made his name
as a politician by converting
London, generally viewed as “a
Labour city”, to the Tory cause
when he was elected as mayor.
As Prime Minister he may well
seek to repeat the trick on a
much grander scale by tilting
several former Labour heart-
lands decisively in a
Conservative direction. If he
succeeds, he may even finally
earn forgiveness for the Tories
being seen to have abandoned
local heavy industry and put
almost nothing in its place dur-
ing the get-rich-quick 1980s.
And while the metropolitan
trendies of London were easily
wooed back to the Labour
cause within a few years, the
same is less likely to be true of
areas that feel Labour no longer
speaks for them at all.
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