Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Lidington threatens resignation as HS2 bill forges ahead

The HS2 bill passed its second reading in the Commons yesterday by 452 to 41 votes, a majority of 411.

MPs threw out a proposal by Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan for the plan to be halted by a majority of 401. Fifty MPs backed Gillan’s motion. She told the Commons:

"I started as a nimby but I have looked at this project and I do not believe it is the best answer to the UK's transport problems."

Among those missing from the debate was Aylesbury MP David Lidington – as Minister for Europe he was visiting Estonia. Before the vote, he told the Bucks Herald:

“I have decided to abstain, but I have been and remain opposed to HS2, I’ve fought alongside campaigns and the Prime Minister knows my views. The key test for me is, given there is a massive cross-party majority in favour of this scheme, can we get the generous and fair mitigation that the local area deserves?

Lidington said he would resign as a minister at the third reading of the HS2 bill if mitigation is inadequate:

“I will resign at a later stage of the bill if they don’t get mitigation, and that for me includes a Chilterns tunnel.”

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