Sheffield MPs accuse Boris Johnson of levelling up failure – as he backs London rail projects

Sheffield MPs have accused Boris Johnson of failing in levelling up – after he called for more investment in London.

Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 10:30 am

It comes after comments in a Sky TV interview at the opening of Crossrail, when Mr Johnson was told people outside London might say yet again London's got a big project, before describing more schemes he wanted to see carried out in the capital, with no mention of northern projects.

Read More

Read More
Prime Minister Boris Johnson survives confidence vote – with support from MPs ne...

He said: “I've got absolutely no embarrassment as a former Mayor of London about supporting great projects in London, and we've got to do Crossrail, we've completed Crossrail. And there's more we should be doing. We should be looking at tax increment funding like we did with the Battersea line extension, like we did with the Northern line down to Battersea; we should be looking at the Bakerloo line extension.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Sheffield MPs have accused Boris Johnson of failing in levelling up – after he called for more investment in London.

"I think the real thing for us to do now is to think about Crossrail 2, the old Hackney – Chelsea line, and that is going to be transformative too. All the problems of commuters coming into Waterloo and getting up to North London, you can fix that with another Crossrail. So I think we should be getting on with that.”

Sheffield MPs criticised his remarks.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, chairman of Parliament’s levelling up committee, said: “He just ignored the question, I think it’s astounding.

"Levelling up cannot just be about specific pots of money. It has to be about changing the distribution of departmental budgets in the balance between the south and the north. I would at least have expected platitudes."

He said he wanted to see improvements in connections to places like Sheffield to HS2 and to Manchester, and improvements to supertram.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, Labour’s transport spokesperson, said: “Just like with so much Boris Johnson says – it’s all talk and no action. His comments perfectly demonstrate that he has no plan and no idea how to level up the north.

“Cities like Sheffield and our proud communities across Yorkshire deserve London-style levels of investment but instead, under this failing Tory government we are seeing managed decline. Cuts to our trains, our buses and our opportunities to fulfil our potentials.”

One rail expert told the Star as well as Crossrail (£19 billion), London has seen projects including Thames Link (£6 billion); electrification of the Great Western mainline from Paddington (£5.7bn); upgrades of the North London line and East London line (over £1bn each); and London Underground upgrades including to Heathrow airport, to Docklands (£3bn), and to Battersea (£1bn), and a £750m scheme at Bank station.

He said two schemes to improve railways into Sheffield were the £147 million Hope Valley (Sheffield – Manchester) line improvements, one of George Osborne’s 'Northern Hub' schemes, originally due for completion in 2019; and electrification of the Midland mainline, originally committed to in 2012.

A government spokesperson said: “To say the Government doesn’t care about the North is simply nonsense. Our £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan, which will better connect communities across both the North and Midlands, is the single biggest rail investment in the UK's history. No Government has ever been more committed.

"It will include a new Northern Powerhouse Rail network connecting Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds, with more frequent, faster, and more reliable services.”