Starmer denounces the government on HS2, but can’t commit to reinstating the scrapped rail link

Sir Keir Starmer has criticised the government’s handling of High-Speed Rail 2, but the public do not believe he would have handled the issue much better than Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Labour leader labelled the cancellation of the project a “fiasco” and a “complete mess” in an interview with the BBC.

Yet Starmer has not promised to reinstate the HS2 link from Birmingham to Manchester if Labour were to gain power.

He said: “Given the hole that they’ve put in the project, I can’t stand here and commit to reversing that.”

YouGov polling has shown that the public is split on whether Starmer and Labour would have handled HS2 better than Sunak and the government.

Of the Brits polled, 24% said the opposition would be better than the government, whilst 18% thought they would be worse.

Just over a third polled believed the two main parties would treat the issue in a similar way, whilst nearly a quarter said they did not know.

Despite the public not identifying a stark difference on HS2 between the two main parties, the Labour Party does maintain a twenty percentage point lead over the Conservatives in polling of Westminster voting intentions.

Labour is currently polling at 45%, with the governing party way back on 24%.

The issue of HS2 does not appear to be a huge factor in the polls either, with neither party’s percentage changing from the last set of data from the end of September.

This lead was reflected in the recent Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, with Labour comfortably gaining the seat from the SNP.

There was a 24.1 percentage point increase from the election in 2019, which Starmer will see as a promising result ahead of the Labour Party Conference which is being held in Liverpool this week.

As the next general election draws closer, Labour’s position on certain issues, including transport and HS2, will be important as it aims to give the public an image of a government-in-waiting.

Featured image by James Newcombe 

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