Deleted Rail Plans Were Just ‘Examples’ Of How To Spend HS2 Money, Says Transport Secretary

“They weren’t examples,” Mark Harper told during interview. "I’ve got the original document. It's right here."

Transport secretary Mark Harper has claimed a series of infrastructure projects that were suddenly deleted from official plans were just “examples” of what could be built.

Rishi Sunak triggered a backlash last week - including from David Cameron and Boris Johnson - when he cancelled the second leg of the HS2 rail line.

The prime minister said this was because the cost had got out of hand and instead pledged £36bn would be spent on other transport links across the country.

But the so-called Network North proposal was attacked as a “shambles” by Labour after some schemes vanished from the initial document.

A pledge of ”£100m for a mass transit system for Bristol” appeared on the government website on Wednesday but had disappeared a day later.

The Leamside Line in the north east, which closed in 1964, was set to be reopened. But all reference to this appeared to have been removed by Thursday.

Similarly a previously promised upgrade to the A259 from Bognor Regis to Southampton then was changed to only extend from Bognor Regis to Littlehampton.

Harper was challenged over the disappearing plans during an interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme.

“We gave some examples to people about the sorts of things, and we know these things are priorities locally, the sorts of things that that money could be spent on to bring it to life for people,” he said.

Presenter Victoria Derbyshire, who was hosting the show today, asked: “Why delete it?”

“They weren’t examples,” she said, waving the list. “I’ve got the original document. It’s right here.”

The exchange came as Labour opened its annual conference in Liverpool on Sunday, with polls suggesting Keir Starmer remains on course to become prime minister next year.


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