UK & World News

  • 27 April 2014, 19:51

HS2 Rebellion 'Much Bigger' If Labour Opposed

A Tory revolt against a £50bn high-speed rail link would be much bigger if Labour opposed the scheme, a former Government whip has told Sky News.

Michael Fabricant, a Conservative MP whose Lichfield constituency will be affected by the project, said up to 100 of his colleagues had "really serious doubts" about HS2.

But with the project set to clear its first Commons hurdle on Monday with Labour backing, Mr Fabricant said a number of MPs were reluctant to "use up our stocks" with the party's whips.

As it stands, up to 40 Conservatives are thought to be planning to rebel against the Government.

The HS2 link between London, the Midlands and the North of England is expected to cost £42.6bn, which includes contingencies, with £7.5bn for the trains.

Speaking on Sky News' Murnaghan programme, Mr Fabricant said: "If Labour was against it then the rebellion would be a lot bigger than 40.

"The Government whips...advised Number 10 that without having Labour support, the legislation wouldn't get through.

"It'd be double the amount of rebellion that we've got now. People are saying, 'Well, if it's going to go through anyway why use up our stocks with the whips?'

"So probably... only 30 or 40 will rebel but I can tell you 80 to 100 people have really serious doubts either about the principle of HS2, including its costs, or, as in my case, the implementation of HS2."

Mr Fabricant said he backed the principle of the scheme, but told the Murnaghan programme: "This present plan is seriously flawed."

He pointed out it did not link to the existing high-speed rail line to Europe or a London airport, and added: "It's as environmentally damaging the route, as it possibly could be."

He has tabled amendments in an attempt to block the Government's plans, and is pressing for a cheaper and more environmentally "sympathetic" scheme.

Another HS2 rebel is former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan.

The Tory MP for Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire told Sky News: "For our constituencies and from our perspective, we think this project should be rethought out."

Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh told Murnaghan that Labour would be backing the legislation.

She said: "With the costs going up we had to look again at it, we had that look and we're backing the project."

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