Andy Burnham slams government for treating people in the North ‘like second class citizens’

“Why are we always treated as second-class citizens when it comes to transport?"

Andy Burnham

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has slammed government ministers for treating people in the North ‘like second class citizens’, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak mulls axing a key HS2 route within days.

It comes after former transport secretary Grant Shapps repeatedly refused to confirm that the high-speed line will be completed in full. It’s understood that the northern leg of the high speed line from Birmingham to Manchester is likely to be axed amid concern over costs.

Shapps told Sky’s Trevor Phillips: “Money is not infinite.

“All of these big decisions where budgets are, particularly in the case of HS2, inexorably going higher and higher and higher, and your viewers are having to pay that bill, it is absolutely right that the government looks at it and says: hold on a minute, is this just a sort of open-ended cheque or are we going to make sure this project gets delivered to a pace and a timetable that actually works for the taxpayer?”

Reacting to news of changes to the HS2 plans, Burnham slammed the government for its treatment of the north. He said: “Why is it that people in the north are always forced to choose – you can have this or you can have that, but you can’t have everything?

“London never has to choose between a north-south line or an east-west line and good public transport within the city.

“Why are we always treated as second-class citizens when it comes to transport?

“This was the parliament when they said they would level us up. If they leave a situation where the southern half of the country is connected by modern high speed lines and the north of England is left with Victorian infrastructure, that is a recipe for the north-south divide to become a north-south chasm over the rest of this century.”

Burnham went on to add that the abandonment of the HS2 leg would be the ‘desperate act of a dying government’.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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