Ed Milliband gives full backing to HS2

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Ed Miliband has promised to deliver HS2 to Yorkshire if Labour wins the election ending speculation the party is considering delaying the scheme to shift spending to other projects.

The Labour leader was unequivocal in backing HS2 which, on current plans, will see high speed trains connecting London and Birmingham with new stations in Leeds and Sheffield.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls recently suggested improving east-west rail links should take priority having previously questioned whether HS2 was the “best way to spend £50bn” and warned there would be “no blank cheque” for the project.

But asked whether Yorkshire voters who back Labour can expect HS2 to be delivered on the current timetable if the party wins power, Mr Miliband told The Yorkshire Post: “Yes.”

He continued: “We support HS2, absolutely, we support HS2. We are not backing off it, we are not changing our position on it. We are supporters of HS2 and that’s clear.

“What Ed Balls has said is that we need the east-west link as well and that’s right.”

His comments as Mr Balls prepares to deliver a speech in Yorkshire today to attack the government’s choices on tax, saying that under the Tories “millions pay more while millionaires pay less.”

Mr Balls claims the Conservatives will raise VAT again – a £1440 tax hike on families over four years – while planning another top-rate tax cut for millionaires.

He will say: “David Cameron and George Osborne are going round the country telling people they’ve never had it so good. How out of touch can they get? The truth is millions are worse off because of this government’s choices.

A move to delay or scrap the second phase of HS2 from Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds to the east of the Pennines and Manchester to the west could embarrass Labour council leaders in the North who have campaigned vociferously for the scheme.