Investor Tom Wagner has written to the government on reports that HS2 could be significantly cut back – with the Birmingham City owner arguing the decision would set back Britain’s reputation as a place to do business.
Wagner brought in former NFL quarterback Tom Brady as a fellow investor to the Championship club.
According to a report in the Financial Times, Wagner – who said that HS2’s arrival was a key reason for his US hedge fund’s involvement in the club – has warned that “any deviation could result in a loss of investor trust and this would have a considerable negative impact on the UK.”
HS2 is reportedly on the block with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said to be considering cutting back the project from a Manchester to London line to a Birmingham to Old Oak Common stretch.
Institute for Fiscal Studies’ boss Paul Johnson said today the costly debacle made him “weep.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was tight-lipped on whether HS2 – which had originally been intended to split after Birmingham into a line to Manchester and another to Leeds, already cancelled – would be for the chop.
“I’m not going to comment on discussions that are happening at the moment, because as Chancellor, you would expect me to be having discussions with the Prime Minister, when major infrastructure projects overrun in their costs. And that’s what we’re facing with HS2,” he told LBC.
Groups across the country criticised the potential decision.
Muniya Barua, Deputy Chief Executive at BusinessLDN, said: “It is unthinkable that the UK would build a new north-south railway and stop halfway. As with the delay to Euston, pausing or pulling funding from the northern leg will only add cost in the long-run. The railway needs to be built and the longer we leave it the more expensive it will be.”