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Shropshire Star comment: Does HS2 merit the huge cost?

By Shropshire Star | Politics | Published:

Few who have followed the increasingly twisted tale of HS2 will be shocked by the latest revelations over its budget.

Ministers were apparently aware some three years ago that the controversial line was already likely to cost £1 billion more than planned.

Yet the details were held back from the public, leaving ministers to repeatedly insist it would be completed to a £55.7bn price that always seemed rather fanciful.

In more enlightened periods of history this would be considered a scandal, but at a time when the country is still bound to the EU – and Remainer politicians are doing all they can to keep it that way – it is simply par for the course.

A review into the line is already underway, and the likelihood that the taxpayer has been misled over the budget for HS2 must be thoroughly examined.

And even the most committed supporters of the line need to start asking themselves how much they would be willing to see the country spend on it.

Is it worth £80bn? 100bn? Perhaps even more?

Even for the likes of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, there surely must come a time when the potential long term economic benefits of HS2 are outweighed by its cost?

There is also a wider issue at stake here.

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The British public has now become accustomed to politicians – and this is putting it politely – being less than forthcoming with the facts.

Cynics will say that has always been the case with our elected representatives, but it is hard to recall a time when the truth was so elusive.

Look at all of the MPs who pledged – and voted – to deliver Brexit after the EU referendum, but are now openly committed to stopping it from happening.

That's the same referendum which saw Brexiteers make questionable promises over NHS funding, and Remainers warn of an "emergency budget" in the days after the vote that simply never happened.

As the Star's recent State of the Nation survey showed, people are losing faith in politicians at a rapid rate.

Deliberately covering up burgeoning the cost of the country's biggest infrastructure project is hardly the way to regain public confidence.

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