Not getting Cross(rail)
So, the Queen’s Speech has come and gone, and we’re not now expecting to see another for two years (assuming you believe that the current government somehow survives that long).
Unsurprisingly, the speech was dominated by Brexit, with no less than eight of the 27 bills read out by Her Majesty relating to Britain’s exit from the EU. It’s clear that MPs’ time is going to be dominated by the process.
Much has been made by commentators since yesterday’s announcement, however, of the slimmed down nature of the Queen’s Speech – no plans on grammar schools, a dementia tax, and not even a mention of the supposed visit by US President Donald Trump.
With Prime Minister Theresa May’s hand significantly weakened by the election result, a lot has had to be jettisoned from the Tory manifesto, as she and her ministers look for ideas and programmes that they believe can command support from enough MPs to win the numbers game and get measures through the House of Commons.
All of which makes the decision not to include Crossrail 2 in any of the Conservatives’ apparent plans all the more strange.
Crossrail 2 had been supported by the Tories, and it is one of the few areas now that the party is in a minority where it could make easy progress. It has broad cross-party support and delivering the project was contained in both the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos.
At the time, it looked like the Conservatives had simply overlooked the scheme in its haste to get a manifesto drawn up – or perhaps wanted to show a less London-centric side by not focusing solely on projects in the capital.
But with no mention of the project since the election, the Queen’s Speech had been the perfect time to remedy that had they wanted. The fact that it was not included and has not been mentioned by the Conservatives since May called the election is worrying.
It is therefore no surprise that London mayor Sadiq Khan has again been championing the project as a key part of his vision for the capital’s transport over the coming decades.
With so much that divides the green benches likely to come up over the coming months, it seems a huge missed opportunity for the government if it is pushing forward with plans that would command support from all sides of the House.