Transport secretary dodges HS2 question eight times in awkward BBC clash

Keir Starmer pushing for HS2 to be scrapped in 2015

The British transport secretary refused to answer questions about HS2 during a painful interview on BBC radio this morning.

Mark Harper, who is in charge of Britain’s transport system, dodged eight questions on the controversial rail network.

It is thought that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could axe the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the high-speed line due to rising costs.

However, Mr Harper did not clarify the situation during an interview on the BBC Today programme.

Instead, he repeatedly insisted that he was not willing to discuss “speculation”.

Host Mishal Husain asked again and again whether “something had changed” in the promise to build the line to Manchester.

He responded: “We’re getting on with building the project. Spades are in the ground.

“I’m not going to comment on speculation. We’re focused on delivering the project.”

Pressed again on whether the plan had changed, Mr Harper said: “We’re getting on with delivering.

“I’m not going to get into speculation. It’s speculation at the moment.”

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The increasingly frustrated BBC host continued to press the cabinet minister for some clarity to little avail.

Ms Husain asked: “Obviously you can understand why people are concerned that something very serious is happening to change the plan of this project?”

He replied: “You’re coming with lots of different ways to comment on speculation.”

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Rishi Sunak similarly dodged questions on HS2 this week in a series of BBC regional interviews.

When asked about HS2, the prime minister repeatedly shifted the focus to local bus links and improving roads by fixing potholes.

This comes after The Times reported that Mr Sunak has been “alarmed” by the escalating cost of the HS2 project, with suggestions that it could eventually exceed £100bn.

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