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Labour accused of ‘hypocrisy’ over HS2 funding U-turn

29 Jun 2024 5 minute read
A Keep Out sign at the construction site for the HS2 project. Photo Lucy North/PA Wire

Plaid Cymru leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has accused Labour of “hypocrisy” after unearthing comments from Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Jo Stevens urging the UK Government to deliver fair rail funding for Wales.

In 2022, Ms Stevens said that it was “utterly illogical” to designate HS2 as an ‘England and Wales project’ – a Treasury classification that means Wales, unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, does not receive additional funding from money spent on the project.

Ms Stevens told the House of Commons that “Crossrail has an England-only classification; HS2 should as well”.

Crossrail, the completed railway project centred on London, led to compensatory funding to all the devolved nations due to it being classified as a project that benefited England only.

UK Treasury

The UK Treasury argues that HS2, the rail link between London and Birmingham currently under construction, benefits both England and Wales, and should therefore not lead to funding for Wales.

In recent week, Ms Stevens has repeatedly refused to commit to ensuring Wales would get its share of consequential funding from the HS2 rail project.

This has denied Wales up to around £4 billion based on the most recent estimates of the project’s total cost, if it had been designated as an England only protect.

Ms Stevens has also claimed that the sum of money owed to Wales is only £350 million.

Mr ap Iorwerth pointed out that Ms Stevens has herself called on the UK Government to deliver the “missing £4.6 billion of rail funding for Wales” in 2022.

During an S4C interview on 17 June, Ms Stevens justified Labour’s U-turn by claiming that “HS2 is no longer in existence”.

‘Peak construction’

HS2 is currently being built between London and Birmingham – with the project itself saying it is at “peak construction”.

When the Birmingham to Manchester leg was scrapped in 2023, the Labour Welsh Government said that “If HS2 becomes only a London to Birmingham railway, it makes the case even clearer that HS2 is an England only project.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth said:”Plaid Cymru is the only party fighting for Wales in this election. While Labour once agreed with us that the UK Government should provide Wales with billions of pounds in owed rail funds, they are now set to continue sitting on that money in Westminster.

“Labour’s spokesperson on Wales argued strongly in 2022 that the UK Government should ‘cough up’ and deliver the ‘missing £4.6 billion of rail funding for Wales’. She compared it to London’s Crossrail project, which led to compensation for Wales due to the Treasury correctly designating it as a project that benefits England only.

“After the Manchester leg of HS2 was scrapped in 2023, HS2 became even more clearly a project that benefits England only – an argument made by the Labour Welsh Government at the time.

“Now, moments from power, Jo Stevens has reversed her position, denying Wales the owed funding by claiming that ‘HS2 is no longer in existence’, despite the ongoing construction of the London to Birmingham railway line.

“For Labour, it seems the ‘H’ in HS2 stands for hypocrisy. Let’s ensure they’re held to account.

Earlier this month, the Senedd voted unanimously to call for Wales to be given its fair share of funding.

Recalculated

However, as reported by Nation.Cymru yesterday (27 June) the Welsh Government says it has recalculated the sum owed in HS2 consequentials to just £350 million.

During a debate in the Senedd on Wednesday (June 26), Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Cabinet Office Rebecca Evans urged MSs to use the “correct figures” when making the case for Wales to receive its HS2 cash.

She said: “£350 million has been lost to Wales as a result of the misclassification of HS2. We’ll continue to press the UK Government – any UK Government – to reclassify HS2 as an England-only project and to provide us with our fair share of the consequential funding.”

Plaid Cymru MS Mabon ap Gwynfor asked the Cabinet Secretary to explain how she came to the £350m figure.

Ms Evans responded saying she had sent an “explainer” to colleagues on how much Wales had received from the UK Government in each of the financial years when HS2 has been under construction.

She said: “Wales must have its fair share of funding. But, equally, it’s important that we do use the correct figures, because they’re being used in this Chamber, but now also in the media, and I just think that that clarity is important.”

In March last year, Ms Evans called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt to provide Wales with its “£5 billion” share of HS2 funding.


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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
15 days ago

Jo Stevens and Labour clearly have no interest or care for the people of Wales. Careerists invested in the extraction of wealth from Wales to Westminster and England. Plaid is the only party fighting our corner..

Welshman28
Welshman28
15 days ago

Jo Steven’s you must NOT forget is just a a little puppet on a string controled by Starmer and his backers. In the commons when questions were asked of the Conservative Government’s Welsh Secretary she as Shadow Secretary NEVER got any facts correct. Every statement or question aimed at the Welsh Secretary from her she was politely put back into her box . It was amazing that NEVER in Parliament would she ever admit or at least accept that Wales was in a mess and saying Drakeford or Gething has never done anything wrong both great FM’s . I suggest… Read more »

David
David
15 days ago
Reply to  Welshman28

Jo Steven’s £350 million reminds me of the bus for Brexit.

Why vote
Why vote
15 days ago

Do politicians not realise they are there to benefit the party they were elected to blindly follow not the country they represent and definitely not the population that elected them, full of false promises and election guarantees that are withdrawn after the dust settles and the realisation that not all promises can be kept so………… it starts again. Promises promises promises.

Gwyn Hopkins
Gwyn Hopkins
15 days ago

The UK Government’s pathetic excuse for classifying HS2 as an England and Wales project, thereby denying any Barnett Consequential Funding for Wales, is that a few trains using HS2 will travel on to Wales. However, more trains using the track will be travelling on to Scotland so why isn’t this feeble excuse being used to classify HS2 as an England, Wales and Scotland project so that Scotland would get no Barnett Consequential Funding either? This blatant discrimination against Wales is undoubtedly because the Scottish independence movement is much stronger than Wales’ independence movement. 

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