Fiona Bruce asks Lisa Nandy – ‘Where is Labour on this? I’m confused.’
Lisa Nandy was grilled by Fiona Bruce on BBC Question Time over Labour’s position on HS2.
In a heated moment, the Labour frontbencher urged the BBC host to “let me answer” as she was pressed on whether her party would build the high-speed rail line in full.
Bruce told Ms Nandy she was “confused” about what Labour’s position was on the project, which has question marks over its future.
She asked the Labour MP a number of times to confirm if Sir Keir Starmer would go ahead with the entire rail line.
Bruce said: “You’ve got two shadow cabinet ministers, this is last week, one saying on one day we will build HS2 in full and we will build Northern Powerhouse Rail in full.
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“The very next day you had another shadow cabinet minister saying we need to see the full cost before we come to a decision. So which is it – are you going to build it or are you not going to build it?”
Ms Nandy replied: “We want to see HS2 built, we’ve been consistent about that over a long period of time. The reason I want to see it built…”
Bruce interrupted: “So just to be clear, that’s Labour policy?”
Ms Nandy said: “Let me… let me… let me… let me answer, if it’s alright.”
Once the pair stopped speaking over each other, the Labour MP went on: “I will answer the question. We want to see this built, there’s no question about that, we’ve been consistent about that.
“We would have started in the north not least because the biggest economic benefit of this line is the bit between Manchester and Birmingham which is precisely the bit that Rishi Sunak is now talking about cancelling.
“The infrastructure we’ve got was built in Victorian times and unless we sort that out we’ll be condemned to this misery not just for decades but for 50 or 100 years.
“That’s what HS2 was designed to solve and instead what we’ve got is the absurd spectacle this week of a Prime Minister who has spent £25 billion of our money on this railway now saying that a line that was supposed to go from London to the north is now going to go to neither London or the north.
“It’s ridiculous, that’s why we’re saying to the Government open up the books and tell us what the actual hole is you’ve blown in the finances.”
Ms Nandy said Labour “want to know what the hole is in the budget”, adding: “We’re committed to bringing our railways back in house.”
But Bruce pressed: “Hang on it doesn’t sound like you’re committed, if you’ve got the shadow chief secretary of the Treasury saying Labour needs to see the full costs before it makes a decision…”
Ms Nandy replied: “I’m on your show Fiona and I’m telling you the answer.”
The BBC host said: “That HS2 will get built under Labour?”
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Ms Nandy said: “I’m telling you that we are committed to bringing the railways back in house, public control over our buses and upgrading our infrastructure to solving this problem around Manchester so that Northern Powerhouse Rail works.”
But Bruce pressed again: “And committed to building HS2? I didn’t hear that in the list.”
Ms Nandy said: “We’re committed to upgrading the infrastructure so we fix the actual problem it was designed to solve.
“Yes we want to build HS2 but the first thing we need to know from the PM is open the books, come clean, tell us what the hole in the budget is so that we can fix this mess.
“We can’t do it unless he comes clean not just with us but with the country as well. “
It comes as there are questions over whether Rishi Sunak will scrap HS2’s Birmingham to Manchester leg over soaring costs.
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