NEW with @PickardJE: Boris Johnson facing uproar from civil leaders and Tory MPs for watering down HS2 and plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

One senior Tory said that the move exposed the government “has never had a plan for levelling up”.…
@PickardJE Instead an entirely new high-speed railway from Manchester to Leeds, only some of a new line will be built from Manchester to a point close to Huddersfield.

The rest of the route to Leeds will consist of upgrades to the existing Transpennine route.…
The majority of the HS2 eastern leg is also being scrapped - a core part of the original business case for the railway.

Instead of 115 miles from Birmingham to Leeds, it will now only go 42 miles to the East Midlands Parkway.…
To compensate, the rail review is expected to propose the electrification of the Midland mainline which goes from London to Nottingham and Sheffield.…
Red wall Tory MPs are very unhappy:

“Losing part of the eastern leg of High Speed 2 is very disappointing, it would be transformative for capacity in the north. So it’s absolutely fundamental to get a new Manchester to Leeds railway.”…

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More from @SebastianEPayne

16 Nov
NEW: Senior Tories are prepared to back a ban on consultancy work by MPs - but Cabinet ministers warn could lead to a clear out of long-serving backbenchers.

"It is attractive because it would remove the lobbying risk"

Latest with @Laura_K_Hughes…
One Cabinet minister on consequences of banning consultancy work:

“I expect the people who have them [consultancy jobs] will be the people who the chief whip and others wouldn’t be unhappy if they decided they were not standing at the next election."…
A senior Conservative MP: “There are a lot of ‘former ministers’ here at the moment who seem to have lost a bit of purpose. And I’ve always been in favour of younger people being MPs.”…
Read 4 tweets
9 Nov
👨‍💼 Being an MP has become a full-time job with no room for outside interests.

The era of the “good chaps” theory government is over and its time to curtail or end second jobs, combined with a pay rise to match similar jobs.

Latest @FinancialTimes column…
“There’s no way I could be an MP without my outside interests. My wife works full time, I’ve got kids and need the money for childcare.” To the average voter, a salary of £82,000-a-year might seem generous. But to listen to this MP, the struggle is real.…
Owen Paterson showed the checks and balances work. No10’s efforts to scrap the standards system to save him failed and the court of public and parliamentary opinion did for him. But the more voters hear of MPs’ side gigs the greater the clamour for reform…
Read 13 tweets
3 Nov
As you may have possibly heard, the @FinancialTimes paywall is down so it's #FTfreetoday! Here's some top political reads:

- @PickardJE and yours truly on Hartlepool and whether Labour can win back its lost heartlands (with some stunning photography)…
- Inside Boris Johnson's money network. @GeorgeWParker and our crack investigative network take you into how the Tory party transformed its fundraising operation…
- The new north: my essay from Consett on Labour's lost northern heartlands and how England has changed since the age of deindustrialisation…
Read 14 tweets
29 Oct
💥 FT Exclusive: @EmmanuelMacron warns Boris Johnson the UK’s international “credibility” is on the line in the Brexit disputes over fishing rights and Northern Ireland.

“Make no mistake, it is not just for the Europeans but all of their partners.”…
Macron tells @labboudles he was sure of “goodwill” but:

“When you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later you do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects that suit you the least, it is not a big sign of your credibility.”…
Macron said there had been “no provocation, no tension” over fishing rights, but added “we need to respect each other and respect the word that has been given”.

The president said he had “never created pointless controversy” with post-Brexit disputes.…
Read 5 tweets
26 Oct
‘Levelling up’ 🤝 'science superpower'

These two policy goals naturally chime together, which shouldn't be forgotten in tomorrow's Budget. Without Dominic Cummings, No10 shouldn't resile from a bold R&D spending strategy.

M'latest @FinancialTimes column…
@FinancialTimes “Go and do something that will actually get you a job,” my school tutor advised me before university. I duly went off to gain a BSc in Computer Science,

Although I displayed limited scientific aptitude, CompSci was one of the best decisions of my life.…
Our leaders have strained relations with science. Wilson embraced “the white heat” of change, but failed to see it through. Thatcher sounded the alarm on climate change but didn't act. Now Boris Johnson now wants to follow the success of the AZ vaccine.…
Read 6 tweets
22 Sep
I'm perplexed as to why so many in Westminster (especially in Labour) think Boris Johnson will call an early election.

#1: The Tories' polling lead is quite soft, as seen in the dip over the NI tax rises. It would be very May '17/Trudeau to go to the polls in such circumstances
#2: Things are about to get dicey for Johnson. A difficult winter for the NHS lies ahead with flu and Covid. Plus energy quandaries. Plus inflation and cost of living.

In the words one of former Tory cabinet ministers, "this is about as good as its gets for Boris"
#3: Johnson has done very little on Levelling Up, in part due to the pandemic. The formation of @luhcgovuk last week is an attempt to resolve.

As the PM told me in #brokenheartlands, he needs as much time as possible to fulfil pledges to 2019 first time Tory voters.
Read 10 tweets

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