George Osborne and Ed Balls clash over future of HS2 in the north

George Osborne visiting Britvic Soft Drinks in Leeds.
George Osborne visiting Britvic Soft Drinks in Leeds.

George Osborne has accused Labour of putting economic growth in the North at risk by ‘tearing up’ plans for HS2.

The chancellor has challenged his Labour counterpart Ed Balls to commit in full to the high-speed rail link project.

The intervention comes after Mr Balls suggested that the proposals could be delayed or scaled back if he is in the Treasury after May 7.

Mr Osborne said: “Ed Balls is now openly talking about cancelling £21 billion of long-term investment in the North and not going ahead with the second phase of HS2.

“That would be a huge blow to jobs in the North and the plans to build a Northern Powerhouse.

“It would be a real blow to Yorkshire and the North West to tear up the plans, so that HS2 would never reach Manchester and Leeds.”

A spokesman for Mr Balls said: “George Osborne is no friend of the North. We support HS2, but as Ed Balls said last week we shouldn’t wait for years before we get on and improve East-West transport links too. That’s why we want to do everything we can to maximise the benefits of high-speed rail for as much of the country as possible.”