The Prime Minister was no match for the UK’s oldest MP on 1 November. Theresa May’s comeback had MPs in hysterics. Kicking off Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Dennis Skinner spoke [0.11] out about the development of the High Speed Two (HS2) railway:
Is the Prime Minister aware there’s been some very powerful research done on the question of High Speed Rail… In the leafy suburbs of the south, the first 140 miles, 30% of it has been dedicated to tunnelling to avoid knocking houses down. Yet in the north we are now told that the percentage is only 2% for the whole of the north. Why? Because HS2 says ‘it’s too costly: Knock the houses down!’ … Isn’t it high time that this government stop treating our people like second-class citizens?
Following the research, campaigners have accused HS2 of taking money from the north to pay for benefits in the south. May’s response to Skinner drew [1.25] derision from the Commons:
Of course, Hs2, the reason why we are doing HS2, is that it is important to increase the capacity of the railway lines going through to the north… I can assure him that if he looks at everything this government has done with the northern powerhouse, the midlands engine…
MPs then cut May off, laughing at her talk of a “northern powerhouse”. Critics have long branded the initiative a “joke”, given that 97.6% of senior civil servants at the department delivering the northern powerhouse are based in London.
Always a good start to #pmqs when Dennis Skinner asks the first question, PM laughed at when she mentions Northern powerhouse in response!
But the government’s apparent disregard for the north goes beyond this. Any talk of growth – let alone a ‘powerhouse’ – is demonstrably misleading. In fact, London and the south-east are the only two regions that are better off today than in 2007. Nowhere else is experiencing a recovery and some other regions are in a depression:
The north-east, the north-west, and Yorkshire and The Humber are all much worse off than a decade ago. Yet, in response to Skinner, the Prime Minister suggested [1.55] there has been fair investment “across all parts of the country” to ensure the nation “works for everyone”.
Skinner, who represents the northern constituency of Bolsover, took May apart on the glaring injustice dogging HS2. For infrastructure that will supposedly better the north, HS2 is hardly getting off to a promising start. May’s comeback was so brittle that MPs could only laugh.
Watch the exchange here:
–SupportThe Canary if you appreciate a counterpoint to the corporate press.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.