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Today’s Sunday Times carries yet another attempt at a hatchet job on Hs2 by one Andrew ‘transcription error’ Gilligan, a man who’s churned out stuff trying to discredit Hs2 as long as the project’s been going. Of course, none of his fanciful claims have come to pass, but that’s never stopped either him, or the gullibility of Hs2 anti’s who continue to grasp at every straw he throws them.

The latest stuff is that Gilligoon has supposedly been passed a copy of a report, dated December 2016, written by Paul Mansell, an IPA adviser embedded full-time in HS2. As usual, we have to take Gilligoon’s word for this and what its contents say as none of the report is reproduced in his article. Instead, we have to rely on snippets written in quotation marks. Such as,

“The assessment describes the scheme as “fundamentally flawed”, in a “precarious position”. And, the project is “highly likely” to go as much as 60% over budget and cost “more than £80bn”

So, it’s the usual cut and paste job by Gilligoon, where we have to rely on the great man’s reputation for accuracy and integrity. At least (for once), his article doesn’t use the standard lazy journalists phrase and claim that the report is ‘damning’.

The rest of the article is the usual mish-mash of previously reported speculation that’s been added to pad it out and try and make it seem more than it is. So, we get a repetition of the ConHome kite flying that Michael Gove’s been canvassing opinions that if he becomes PM, scrapping Hs2 would be a vote winner – ignoring the fact Gove’s just as  likely to end up in prison for his role in the vote Leave illegality as he is in No 10!

We also get treated to recycling the story that Hs2’s land purchase costs are billions over budget and – just for good measure – the story that Michael Byng has calculated that Hs2 will cost north of £100bn.

So, it’s the usual speculative numbers bullshit bingo! For years we’ve had Hs2 antis throw around invented numbers, each one more fanciful than the last. We’ve had £60, 80, 100, 123, 150 and even £200bn presented as the ‘true cost’ of Hs2 over the past 9 years!

Meanwhile, what’s happened in the real world since this report is meant to have been written (December 2016)? Here’s a timeline.

23 February 2017: Hs2 phase 1 gets Royal Assent.

8th June 2017: A general election. The one where ConHome tried to pretend that the Tories were serious about dropping Hs2!

17th July 2017: £6.6bn of Hs2 construction contracts were let. On the same day the Bill for hs2 Phase 2a was introduced into Parliament.

30th January 2018: The phase 2a bill passes 2nd reading with a massive majority of 295 to 12. The bill is now proceeding through Parliament.

Looking at events since December 2016 it’s clear that the Government has had several opportunities to pull the plug on Hs2. They haven’t. But hey, why let facts get in the way? Andrew Gilligan never has!