NEXT stop Manchester for the Conservative Party conference and the Telegraph’s evening e-mail pols briefing gets in early with a warning that the unpredictable Boris Johnson may dampen the gathering when they get round to talking about HS2.
Under the heading ‘How Boris Could Spoil Tory Conference’, we’re told:
“High-speed rail – along with Red Ed’s energy price freeze – could be the defining issue of the Conservative Party Conference, which starts in Manchester on Sunday. If Labour come out formally against it, the Tories are going to be left looking very exposed.
What David Cameron could really do without, then, is a rabble-rousing, mischief-making demagogue to weigh in against the development – to tweak his tail and cause him great embarrassment. Well, guess what: Boris Johnson is already opposed to the idea (it’ll cost £70 billion, he wrote in the Telegraph over the summer). Is the Blond One about to make himself seriously unhelpful?”
But you know Boris seemed far more excited about HS2 in comments to the Camden New Journal this week than he has before, rolling off praise for the ‘wealth creation’ of the project and insisting it must go to Euston. His words certainly didn’t sound like a Mayor on a mission to see the whole thing spiked.
He enthused: “HS2 will be a critical driver of growth across the country, a vast high-speed link between our great cities, driving jobs, enterprise and wealth creation, but it would be completely unacceptable for HS2 to terminate at Old Oak Common – the station would be full to bursting from the start.”
And he added: “For HS2 to work it has to be the right HS2, properly connected to HS1. Depositing people on the doorstep of Wormwood Scrubs simply won’t work and there needs to be properly thought through connectivity around Euston to make the project a success.”
That sounds pretty on board when he puts it like that, and certainly more enthused than his worries published in the Telegraph in July when he seemed outraged that the costs of the rail link were clearly spiralling.