Election 2015 England

HS2: David Cameron in SNP and Labour row over Crewe

Proposed Crewe station design Image copyright FARRELLS
Image caption A new HS2 station at Crewe was backed in a report last year

Conservative claims that Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP) could reduce high-speed rail investment in Crewe have been dubbed "preposterous".

On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron said Crewe could lose HS2 investment in a post-election Labour-SNP deal.

But SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie described the comments as "utterly meaningless" and "preposterous".

Crewe's Labour candidate Adrian Heald said he would "not support any move to jeopardise the HS2 line at Crewe".

'Billion pound blow'

A report last year into the route of the high-speed rail line running north from London recommended a new station be built in Crewe.

But Mr Cameron said a minority Labour government, backed by the SNP, means schemes could be dropped.

The prime minister said projects linked to HS2 that could be jettisoned include Crewe's planned University Technical College and the Railway Exchange Training Academy.

Also speaking on Monday, Chancellor George Osborne said: "The SNP deputy leader has said in the last couple of days, if there was a minority Labour administration that needed SNP help to get their legislation through 'we might well say let's not have HS2 go to Manchester and Birmingham, let's have it start in Edinburgh and Glasgow'.

"That is tearing up the plan for huge investment in Crewe. That is cancelling the thousands of jobs and businesses that will come to this town.

"That is a billion pound blow to Crewe and is the price tag of voting for Labour and Ed Miliband here."

Image copyright HS2 Ltd
Image caption HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins recommended extending the route to Crewe in his initial report in March

While Labour has ruled out a coalition with the SNP, Scottish nationalists for their part have said they could support a minority Labour government on an "issue-by-issue" basis.

Echoing the SNP's manifesto, Mr Hosie said he would like to see a Scottish section of HS2 built "at the same time" as the first phase planned between London and the West Midlands, allowing the line to "meet in the middle" of the country.

"Why would that put investment in Crewe at risk?" he said.

"What would put Crewe investment at risk is the £30bn cuts presented by Cameron and friends."

'Desperate scaremongering'

Meanwhile, Labour candidate Mr Heald said: "HS2 is the best opportunity to generate prosperity in Crewe and South Cheshire."

He said Labour is "fully supportive" of the HS2 line.

Crewe and Nantwich in Cheshire is a marginal Conservative constituency.

Roy Wood, Liberal Democrat candidate, confirmed his party were "strong supporters of HS2 even when other parties were wavering" and that David Cameron's comments were "scaremongering from someone who is getting desperate."

Image caption Plans for HS2 have divided many communities across the country

UKIP is the only party standing in Crewe and Nantwich to reject plans for HS2.

Richard Lee, the party's candidate, said UKIP believed the line was "an unaffordable white elephant" and that money could be better spent on upgrading the local and regional rail network.

"The benefits to Crewe, if any, will not be felt in Crewe for a number of years anyway, and it sounds as though David Cameron is merely scaremongering," he said.

"UKIP are fully committed to technical colleges and practical apprenticeship training in schools regardless of HS2."

The candidates standing in Crewe and Nantwich are:

  • Adrian Heald - Labour
  • Richard Lee - UKIP
  • Edward Timpson - Conservative
  • Roy Wood - Liberal Democrat

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