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Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Give us the money

Every political decision has conmsequences, and HS2 is no exception. As commentators have pointed out even 'The Thick of it' would not have staged a political conference in Manchester, only to use it to cancel a major transport route to...Manchester! Rishi Sunak and his Tory cronies are beyond satire.

Nevertheless, as the Independent reports, the Manchester leg of HS2 is being considered for cancellation, as was the Leeds leg before it, leaving high speed rail and the levelling up agenda hanging over a political cliff face.

But, what does this mean for Wales? As readers of this blog will know, the Welsh Government is entitled to receive a roughly 5.9% share of any capital expenditure in England under the Barnett formula. But a major row broke out, as HS2 was classed by the Treasury as an England and Wales scheme on the entirely spurious argument that it would benefit North Wales through its links with Crewe. 

This decision effectively deprived the Welsh Government of £5 billion that could have been used to fix our own transport infrastructure.

But if the Manchester link is cancelled, the Treasury's argument falls down and the project becomes unarguably, essentially an England only one. 

I hope Welsh Ministers are poised to take the argument to Whitehall that UK Ministers' reasons for not giving us the £5bn no longer exist, and that they demand that the money is paid over immediately.

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