Whatever happened to the “Northern Powerhouse”?

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has been accused of betraying millions of taxpayers over Crossrail 2.


The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has been accused of "betraying millions of taxpayers" after backing Crossrail 2, a £30bn underground line through London, just days after ditching plans to electrify rail routes in England and Wales, says Graeme Paton in The Times. Electrification was at the "heart" of David Cameron and George Osborne's "bold" Northern Powerhouse scheme, says Sebastian Payne in the Financial Times.

But, under Theresa May, the Tories' interest in the north has "sadly" diminished. "The capital always needs more transport capacity, but too often the government defers to the southeast where the decision makers commute."

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

Quite, says Helen Pidd in The Guardian. Crossrail 2 starts in Grayling's Epson constituency. The fact that it takes 49 minutes for the "fast" train to cross the 21 miles from Blackburn to Manchester is one reason the likes of Blackburn have so much deprivation and unemployment. Figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research North reveal that the north would have received £59bn more in funding over the past decade had transport spending per head matched London's. "If Grayling spent more time up here", he would understand the Tories' unpopularity.

If anything is a waste of taxpayers' money, it's HS2, says Daniel Hannan in The Daily Telegraph. A recent report puts the cost at £104bn, up from a 2010 estimate of £32.7bn. And where has the money gone? On fees, mainly. This is, after all, a government scheme, and government schemes have a tendency to attract consultants, advisers and rent-seekers. Grands projets invariably become more expensive as they go on.

Advertisement - Article continues below

All may not be lost for the north though, adds Payne. One "enduring element" of the Powerhouse scheme was devolution from Whitehall to local government, including the creation of directly elected mayors for cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. If Labour's Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, who represent these cities, "can convince Grayling that the north needs better trains, Britain's metro mayors will have proved their worth".




How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019

Will Britain close its doors to immigrants post-Brexit?

Details have not yet been forthcoming, but Britain will soon have a new immigration policy. What will that mean for businesses and investors?
8 Feb 2020
House prices

Is the jump in house prices just a Brexit bounce, or is it more durable?

UK house prices rose sharply in January. Some of that is down to the end of Brexit uncertainty – but not all. There is a real risk that prices will ke…
7 Feb 2020

Most Popular

Investment strategy

The secret to avoiding being panicked out of your portfolio

With the coronavirus continuing to occupy headlines, investors still aren’t sure how to react. But the one thing you mustn’t do is panic. Tim Price ex…
11 Feb 2020
Silver and other precious metals

You should all own some silver. Just don’t expect it to make you rich

Silver is cool, beautiful and immensely useful. But for investors it's the most frustrating of metals. Dominic Frisby explains why you should own some…
12 Feb 2020
Investment strategy

Just five assets matter for investors. Here's what they are

Every investor’s needs are different – but most can be met by the right combination of five investments
11 Feb 2020

Is 2020 the year for European small-cap stocks?

SPONSORED CONTENT - Ollie Beckett, manager of the TR European Growth Trust, on why he believes European small-cap stocks are performing well.
12 Feb 2019