George Osborne’s commitment to a third high speed rail link in the future has gone down well this morning with a nice spread of business groups, northern MPs and Conservatives worried about the Tory appeal (or lack thereof) in the North. It has even gone down well with Nick Clegg, who has released a statement welcoming the Chancellor’s commitment, while of course arguing that the Lib Dems got there first.
Clegg’s spokesman said:
‘Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have led the charge in government to rebalance our economy so that it benefits 100,000 square miles of the country, rather than just one square mile in the City of London.
‘George Osborne’s new-found commitment today is welcome and we are now hopeful that he will match his words with action by backing the Leeds city region growth deal and its proposals for better transport links to other cities across the North.’
This of course makes it the perfect announcement: its start is so far in the future that no-one need really worry about it, it silences those who complain that HS2 does nothing to link up the North, and it allows for a little bit of Coalition bickering.