James Forsyth

HS2 won’t win the next election for Boris

HS2 won't win the next election for Boris
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Since the election, few issues have divided opinion among Tory MPs more than HS2. Boris Johnson’s decision to press ahead with the scheme to Crewe will have its detractors. The reason so many smaller, local infrastructure schemes are also being announced today is to try and reassure Tory MPs that this is not an either or choice.

The very act of taking a decision should calm some of the blue-on-blue action we have seen over HS2. I suspect that those MPs whose constituencies are most negatively affected by it will continue to campaign against it, as will several Tory MPs who are no longer interested in climbing the greasy pole. But the bulk of the parliamentary party will accept the decision, whatever their misgivings about it.

HS2 is a reminder, though, of one of the big challenges Boris Johnson faces. He wants to be the infrastructure PM, but infrastructure projects in the UK tend to run late and over budget.

None of the big national projects being talked about—HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, a bridge to Northern Ireland—are going to be up and running by the time of the next election. Ultimately, it is smaller, more local schemes that are going to have more of an electoral impact come 2024.