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Labour accused of selling Wales short on HS2 funding

14 Mar 2024 5 minute read
An early visualisation of an HS2 train. Photo HS2/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

Labour has been accused of selling Wales short by effectively dropping its demand for full consequential funding in relation to the HS2 rail project.

The issue has been a longstanding political sore in recent years after the UK Government decided to designate the new route heading north from London as an England and Wales project, rather than simply an England one.

None of the line would go into Wales but the argument was put that by changing at Crewe, the journey time from north Wales to London would be reduced.

As a result, the Welsh Government would receive no consequential funding under the Barnett formula, estimated at around £5bn if the whole project went ahead.

Last October Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that HS2 was being scaled back, and that instead of reaching northern cities like Manchester and Leeds, only the first phase as far as Birmingham would be built.

Plaid Cymru MS Mabon ap Gwynfor addressed Constitutional Affairs Minister Mick Antoniw in the Senedd, stating: “Every party in the Senedd has called for Wales to receive our share of HS2 funding; after all, our taxes are going to pay for a project that will, in truth, enrich London further at the expense of Welsh communities—well, why break 800 years of tradition?

“In his speech to the Labour conference yesterday, your leader Keir Starmer devoted an entire session to talking about Scotland. He made reference to Northern Ireland twice, but there was no mention at all of Wales in his speech, and when he, Keir Starmer, has mentioned HS2 in relation to Wales, he has rejected the idea of giving Wales its fair share. Do you share our disappointment here that Starmer has not committed to giving us the money that is due to Wales from HS2?”


Mr Antoniw responded: “Well, of course there is a role for opposition, when it looks as though they’re likely to come into Government, to be very cautious about the issues that they’re going to present, particularly when they’ve not yet set out fully the manifestoes and so on. I am absolutely certain and convinced that Wales not only needs a UK Labour Government, but there are so many things that we want to do in Wales that relate to part of our devolved responsibilities, to our well-being, to our financial position, that can only be resolved with a Labour Government, and that’s why it’s so important that we have a Labour Government in Wales.”

Mr Antoniw added: “Can I just say in terms of that that we are also seeking through our own means to achieve an outcome? And I refer to the earlier answers that I gave—of course, the Finance Minister is expected to meet with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; those positions in respect of HS2 will be put. There are the options of the dispute resolution processes open to us, and we are basically going to put that particular case. That will be the most effective, the most efficient and the speediest way of actually achieving a Barnett consequential in respect of funding that is actually being incurred.”

After hearing of discussions within Welsh Labour that suggested the Welsh Government would be prepared to settle the funding dispute by abandoning potential payments due from money spent in previous years on the project, we asked the Welsh Government for an update on discussions with the Treasury.


A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Welsh railways have historically been underfunded by the UK Government. The classification of HS2 as an England and Wales scheme should be re-visited and Wales provided with a fair Barnett consequential, including the £270m we have missed out on, up to the end of the current spending review period.

“The UK Government should also conduct a wider review of comparability with the Department for Transport, to look at and address the impact of the classification of future rail projects.”

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP said: “Wales is treated unfairly compared to Scotland and Northern Ireland when it comes to rail infrastructure. If we were treated equally, Wales would receive £3.9bn due to spending on HS2 infrastructure between London and Birmingham.

“Settling for a fraction of the owed total would just show how shallow the Labour Party’s claim of standing up for Wales actually is. It would signal to Westminster that Labour is content with Wales being treated like a doormat.

“With a general election on the horizon, Plaid Cymru will be the only party demanding fair funding for Wales. Plaid Cymru candidates will stand on a manifesto demanding full equality between the nations when it comes to infrastructure funding.”

Plaid said the £3.9bn figure was based on an estimate that the cost of the line between London and Birmingham has ballooned to £66bn.

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Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
1 month ago

When it comes to Wales both Tory and Labour treat us the same like dirt as far as Wales is concerned switching to Labour from Tory the way Wales is funded is SAME HORSE DIFFERENT JOCKY

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 month ago

Well there’s a surprise! It shows that whoever is in charge in Westminster – they’ll always sh*t on Wales. Welsh Labour has to finally admit that. It’s time it looked at it’s position, separated from the UK party and backed independence for Wales. Hoping we’ll get what’s due when Labour gains power – is delusional – pigs don’t fly.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

Yes, it makes one very sad that we do not have a Labour Party that will stand up for Cymru. Perhaps this is why those if us who are Yes Cymru members should consider persuading the organisation to abandon Cardiff and re-locate in Central Wales, re-organise itself to a fully volunteer run organisation, and make sure that it’s membership fee for employed people is no more than £10. With that transformation there is a good chance that the membership could climb to a serious level. Once we get over 50% then London Labour will start to twitch and realise that… Read more »

1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Or you could join Plaid Cymru and save yourself a lot of bother and send an even clearer message.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Labour and the Conservatives are one and the same party . I see no difference. Why is it that only Wales is robbed of HS2 consequential where England, Scotland & Northern Ireland will benefit greatly , especially England with HS2 infrastructure, where both Scotland & Northern Ireland will get billions leaving Wales with absolutely nothing? It’s a national slight and the equivalent of Labour & Tories spitting collectively in all our faces. And shame on all those silent self-serving Wales Labour MPs who have their snouts firmly in the Westminster trough. I say, stand up and fight. Put your down… Read more »

1 month ago

No surprise here. Welsh Labour MP’s waved through the bill that made HS2 an England & Wales project without even a whimper of discontent. Cwt o gŵn taeog. Until people use their power via the ballot box to deny Unionists their hold on Wales, we will continue to endure these indignities and injustices over and over. Tired of it? Me too! Don’t give your vote, time or energy to Unionists. Join Plaid Cymru. Help make it the political vehicle we need to win independence.

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