In Brief

Boris Johnson to give HS2 the go-ahead

Prime minister will also announce new funding for bus and cycle links

Boris Johnson is set to give the go-ahead for the entire High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line to be built.

The controversial £100 billion scheme is expected to be approved at a special meeting of the cabinet, with the prime minister announcing the decision in a statement in the House of Commons today.

Although the whole line will be built, the government will seek a review of the second phase covering the North.

Sky News says that “in a bid to placate potential rebel MPs”, Johnson will also announce £5bn of new funding to overhaul bus and cycle links for every UK region outside London.

The new package will include at least 4,000 new zero-emission buses to promote greener commuting, more than 250 miles of new cycle routes and several “mini-Holland” schemes, designed to make town centres safer and greener for cyclists and pedestrians.

However, Johnson can still expect an angry backlash from Tory MPs in the home counties and middle England, who oppose the destruction of rural beauty spots, as well as the soaring costs of the project.

The Taxpayers' Alliance says the news is a “massive blow to the taxpayers of today and tomorrow who will be left paying for the HS2 white elephant with no light at the end of the tunnel”.

Environmentalists are angry, too. Greenpeace said Johnson's decision will give him “the dubious honour of being this century's largest destroyer of irreplaceable ancient woodlands in the UK”.

Johnson has also faced opposition closer to home. His special adviser, Dominic Cummings, has described HS2 as “a disaster zone” and his transport adviser Andrew Gilligan has also argued for the project to be scrapped.

However, the prime minister hopes that giving the go-ahead for HS2 will repay northern voters who voted for him in December’s general election after he promised to improve infrastructure in the north of England and the Midlands.

A YouGov poll found that 31% of people in the North “tend to support” the plans, while 26% “strongly oppose” the project.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald told The Guardian: “HS2 has been appallingly mismanaged by the Conservative party, which has failed to deliver a single major infrastructure project on time or within budget.”

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