Britain

Boris Johnson faces nightmare scenario after decision on HS2

BORIS JOHNSON has been issued a damning warning after the controversial High-Speed Rail Two (HS2) project was given formal approval for construction to begin.

The Government gave the project notice to proceed this month despite the country still being in lockdown. Mr Johnson approved the project after a review into its cost but has come under fire from some campaigners who have criticised the decision to push ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Stop HS2 campaign manager, Joe Rukin insisted the Government had made a “bafflingly erratic decision” to carry on despite the pandemic.

With the financial impact of the coronavirus not certain and the rising death toll across the country, Mr Rukin said the landscape of the UK will be changed forever.

He added: “Its a bafflingly irrational decision to carry on during the pandemic.

“It will be a stench that will now go away and it will follow Boris around for the next five years.

“The Government has stuck there fingers in their ears and pretended nothing is going on.

“It make no sense to be continuing with this project when we have no idea what the lasting implications of the virus.

“HS2 has the potential to define Boris time in office.

“He has had the opportunity to put the breaks on the project.

“It is now a nightmare scenario.

“Spending money on HS2 against a backdrop of people going out of business, is going to stink to high heaven.”

Earlier this year, the Governments review estimated the project’s value may end up being in excess of £100billion.

In 2015, the project was estimated at £56billion and is now believed to be five years behind schedule.

The first phase will link London to Birmingham, while the second will link the line to Leeds, Manchester and Wigan.

This week, the Office for National Statistics stated the UK economy had shrunk at its fastest ratest on record in March due to the coronavirus.

UK gross domestic product fell by 5.8 percent in March in comparison to the previous month.

According to the statistics, this would represent the largest drop since the series began in 1997.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimated the three-month lockdown could push the UKs borrowing to £273billion this financial year.

Matthew Kilcoyne, deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute said the country must get back to a “sustainable financial footing”.

He said: “We’ve got an economic crisis that’s going to cost taxpayers billions.

“We can’t afford vanity projects like HS2.

“We need to get back on to a sustainable financial footing.”

However, HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said: “We cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country.

“This next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it.”

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