Steerpike

Was Jacob Rees-Mogg telling the whole truth about HS2?

Was Jacob Rees-Mogg telling the whole truth about HS2?
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Jacob Rees-Mogg often describes himself as a straight-talker who gives honest answers, no matter how unpopular they might be. But did his performance on Question Time last night live up to this billing? It was held in leafy Aylesbury, which lies on the proposed HS2 path thereby hitting house prices in the area - which explains why only a single member of the audience admitted to supporting it last night. The Moggster got perhaps the loudest cheer of the night when he was asked what he thought of the project and replied:

'Oh, it's a complete waste of money. And the costs and costs go up'.

Perish the thought that he was playing to the gallery. HS2 was an example of the 'sunk-cost fallacy,' he said, so you shouldn't keep pumping money into a failing project just because you've already spent a lot already. He then went on to launch an impassioned plea for Britain to invest in small transport projects instead of Whitehall white elephants. You can watch the whole response here.

But is this the same Rees-Mogg who continually supported HS2 in its passage through parliament and as recently as January last year (by which point HS2's faults were well known) voted in support of the project's next phase? In fact, Mogg voted seven times in support of HS2: in January 2018, March 2016, twice in April 2014, October 2013, and twice in June 2013. The endless debates over the project suggest that he only began to raise doubts when the high-speed horse had already bolted: in October last year.

So perhaps a more straight answer was that HS2 is happening, in part, because Mogg repeatedly voted for it to happen. And that his conversion was rather late in the day. After all, fortis est veritas, as they say in certain parts of Somerset.

Mogg better hope the good people of Aylesbury don't find out, he might need police protection next time he's on a panel there...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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Topics in this articlePoliticshs2jacob rees-mogg