Burnham threatens legal action over HS2 rail link

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Unite members at London Euston campaign for union recognition with HS2 contractors

LABOUR’s Andy Burnham has said he will consider taking legal action if the government abandons plans for building the HS2 rail link in northern England.

Asked if he is looking to take the government to court, the Mayor of Greater Manchester told GB News: ‘All I can say is that for 15 years or more many people in Greater Manchester have been working hard at the government’s request to bring through these plans.

‘We’ve devoted hours and hours and hours of time. All of our development plans are linked to it. If they pull the plug, they are kind of ripping the heart out of the economic development plan for Greater Manchester and parts of the north.

‘So all options would absolutely be on the table and I’ve written to the Prime Minister. Not to consult us and not even to let us put the case – all options would definitely be on the table.

‘We’re getting stronger in terms of the voice of the north. We don’t seek fights with Whitehall, but we know how to answer them back now and we’re not just going to lie down and accept the way Whitehall has always treated the north of England, we are fighting back.

‘We’re getting organised. We’re not going to take things lying down, so they’ll be hearing from us.’

In an interview with Christopher Hope, Burnham said Labour remains committed to building the northern phase of the multi-billion pound high speed rail project.

He said: ‘I’ve had reassurances that they will and I’m really encouraged … we had the Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh in the region yesterday. We have a commitment around Northern Powerhouse Rail, which I keep coming back to is the critical thing as far as I’m concerned. We want both.

‘Let me be really, really clear about this. Why should we be forced to choose between having an east-west line or a north-south line?

‘London’s never been forced to choose. It gets the Elizabeth Line, it gets HS2. But it’s always here where people are forced to choose, we think we need both if we’re to set the north of England up for the rest of this century.’

Burnham added: ‘The commitment is there and we need to see it from the government. They’re coming to Manchester in a few days’ time. What have they got to say to us? They promised to level us up when they stood for election here.’