DAVID Cameron has again signalled his support for the controversial HS2 rail line, but debate rages as to whether his backing was ‘luke warm’ or ‘emphatic’.
The PM said he backed the planned link during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
The issue was raised by Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, who said HS2 was ‘extremely important to the economy and jobs in the north’ and suggested ‘we start laying the track in west Yorkshire first’.
Mr Cameron replied: “I am grateful for that enthusiastic endorsement.
“I believe that we should go ahead with HS2. It is important for the country’s economy, and it is important that we get on board this high-speed rail revolution.
“It links to the question asked by my honourable friend’s neighbour (Zac Goldsmith MP), about Heathrow. Many flights could be avoided if we had a network of high-speed rail in our country and I am keen to press ahead.”
After Prime Minister’s Questions social media site Twitter featured comments from HS2 opponents, claiming the PM’s support sounded ‘luke warm’ or ‘less convincing than usual’.
But pro-HS2 campaigner Lucy James, director of the Campaign For High Speed Rail, welcomed the PM’s ‘emphatic commitment’ – and sought to play down claims that the coalition is close to ditching its HS2 plans.
She said: “This claim is nonsense. It has been concocted out of thin air by a handful of people within Conservative circles who have an axe to grind against David Cameron and who want to make trouble for the coalition.”
Meanwhile this week Commons Speaker and Vale MP John Bercow said he believes the government will do a U-turn on HS2 – whilst stressing that he had no evidence to back up the claim.
He said: “I’m not reconciled, I don’t accept that it’s inevitable.
“I still think it’s perfectly possibly, even at this stage, that the government might be persuaded to reconsider.
“From time to time governments do change tack. They tend to deny it until the last minute and then do it.”