The Camden New Journal published the following letter following up mine two weeks ago regarding HS2, and comparing Keir Starmer’s continued refusal to call for it to be cancelled even now he’s free of the party whip with Cheryl Gillan leaving the Cabinet over it.
I AM surprised Cllr Heather Johnson attacked me for having the temerity to ask Sir Keir Starmer to pledge to oppose HS2, (People don’t want empty words on HS2, January 9).
She says she can’t remember me opposing it, but her memory must be faulty. Before Labour first announced the project, I lived on HS2-devastated Drummond Street.
Yet I gave my first speech against HS2 in 2009, before Labour even announced Euston would be the terminus, because the economics of it have simply never stacked up.
After Euston was announced as the terminus, I went to what I think were the first open meetings of residents against HS2 in Euston and in Primrose Hill, and attended several meetings in severely-affected Amersham and nearby, where I grew up.
Since then I have spoken against HS2 at three Conservative Party conferences. I have met dozens of MPs and the Department for Transport to make the case in person.
I have lobbied every candidate in Conservative leadership elections and mayoral selections. So too have my Camden Conservative colleagues.
HS2 now hangs by a thread as a result of the work of hundreds of Conservatives like us and those far more prominent. One such person is my former MP Cheryl Gillan, who was pushed out of the cabinet in 2012 due to her opposition to HS2.
Unlike Cheryl then, Labour’s leadership election now means Sir Keir Starmer is not subject to collective responsibility. He can, if he wants, come out and oppose HS2 and say that Labour would if he became leader. It is cost-free for him.
I don’t criticise him for keeping his powder dry until now, but now the government is reviewing whether to scrap HS2, it’s time to let it loose.
I don’t care who gets the credit for scrapping HS2. I just want it gone for the harm it does to Camden and to the Chilterns, to the environment and to the economy.
But let’s be honest: it would be a body blow to that fight – at just the moment HS2 could be stopped – if the MP of the constituency most harmed by HS2 didn’t commit to oppose it when he was standing to lead his party.
Saying that Labour have called for mitigation is not be enough: we need cancellation.
For more about my campaign against HS2, click here.