Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle has the unenviable task this morning of standing up in front of the conference and trying to espouse Ed Balls’ new We-don’t-know-to-HS2 strategy. The Shadow Chancellor didn’t say he was dropping Labour’s support for it yesterday, but neither did he say that this new North/South railway is going to be Britain’s national ambition and will solve everyone’s problems. When you tell a packed conference hall that a project your party has previously been gung-ho for has question marks over whether its £50bn cost is worth it, you’re giving the best indication you can that it’s heading for a derailment.
So how will Eagle address the HS2 problem? We’ll see shortly, but there was certainly a great deal of surprise in the bars and parties in Brighton last night that Labour was moving away from backing HS2. I’ve even heard whispers that no-one squared this with Lord Adonis, who is now trying to be generous to his Labour colleagues by saying that it would be the ‘incompetent coalition’ who should get the blame for not keeping the costs down if Labour does walk away.Tags: HS2, Maria Eagle, Transport, UK politics