HS2 is a super turkey. Let’s invest in northern rail instead

Conservative MPs are again expressing widespread alarm about HS2. what they fear is not only that the high-speed rail route will scythe through southern English countryside and communities – as important as that is for those who have constituencies along the route – but also that it could partially derail the Government’s ambitions for a UK infrastructure revolution.

HS2, linking London to Birmingham to the North in a Y-shape route, is certainly remarkable. House of Commons figures I have seen show that, per mile, it is set to become the most expensive surface railway line in history. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are right to review it.

HS2 has worth. If we…

Letters: Second-hand yachts can’t guard the Channel against people-smugglers

SIR – Lieutenant Commander David Wright (Letters, December 27) has a very good idea in suggesting the Ministry of Defence buy half a dozen second-hand motor yachts to patrol the Channel to prevent people-smugglers from using the sea route from France.

But, if the experience with HMS Wakeful is anything to go by, it would soon suffer from “mission creep”. Wakeful was a Swedish tug bought as a tender to submarines operating from the Clyde. It did not help that all its documentation was in Swedish. It acted as part of the Fishery Protection Squadron for some years, but in the final analysis it cost a fortune and was replaced by a purpose-built ship, HMS Sentinel.

With civilian yachts, the very adequate…

Letters: Our Byzantine healthcare system prevents GPs from doing their job

SIR – The NHS wants to do everything on the cheap, with the result that we have an overstretched, inaccessible system that is deteriorating year on year (Leading Article, December 23).

One of the problems in primary care is the number of non-clinical layers that patients have to navigate in order to see someone capable of assessing their problem. The patient is often frustrated by the time they reach a GP, having been inadequately assessed by NHS 111, nurse-led urgent care centres, triage, pharmacists and paramedics.

When the patient does get to see a GP, the service they receive is second best. There is too little consultation time, and insufficient resources for near-patient testing. Long waits…

Labour’s Corbynistas won’t give up control of the party without a fight  

The next couple of months in the Labour Party are going to be fascinating, and it serves them right

Already the Right-wing of the party have their tails up. They saw the failure of Corbynism as a historical inevitability and are now using the fact of this month’s general election wipe-out to take back control. All that’s required is for centrist Labour-supporting types to join in their hundreds of thousands. Oh, and also, they need far-Left types – you know, the kind who have actually done this sort of thing before and succeeded in their aim of taking over the Labour Party – to feel so disillusioned and discouraged that they won’t bother clicking the “join” button on the party’s website.


Scrapping the licence fee is the only way to save the BBC

The broadcaster’s response to its existential threat has been pathetic

Inevitably, Boris Johnson suggestion that the television licence fee might be reviewed has been interpreted as an attack on the BBC. Yet on the contrary, to propose weaning the BBC off its licence fee income and put its services on the same commercial footing as other broadcasters is the act of someone who wants to save it from itself.  

The BBC is dying on its feet. An internal document leaked from the corporation this morning reveals that fewer than half of 16-34 year olds watched any of the BBC’s main broadcast channels in one week – the figure was down from 51.9 percent to 46.6 percent in a year. Unless the missing millions…

With Remainers all over the place, Brexiteers cannot afford to fall out in petty rows 

The Remain alliance has proved to be so ramshackle lately that Brexiteers might have struggled to believe their luck. Just after Hugh Grant lent his star power to the Liberal Democrats, he rounded on them for suggesting they are the best way to stop Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn has been desperately trying to make Labour seem more Brexit-friendly by sending out spokespeople like Ian Lavery, only to have Emily Thornberry boast about how her party is the "only" option for those who want to stop Brexit.  

All that is not as ridiculous as the row Jo Swinson was caught up in with men dressed as bees, which she did not leave unscathed after being branded "patronising". Ms Swinson has tried to deal with the…

Donald Trump deserves a proper welcome for his stalwart and generous defence of our liberty

When the UK was selected as the venue for this week’s 70th anniversary Nato summit some eight months ago it was never anticipated that it would take place in the middle of a general election campaign. Ordinarily, this gathering of allies would be an opportunity to reassert the UK’s key strategic position to counter the concerns that the country’s defences would be weakened after Brexit.

The fact is that the West’s security since 1949 has been underpinned by Nato, and not the EU in its various guises. In particular, it has been guaranteed principally by the United States, which has shown a commitment to the defence of Europe that many of the EU’s leaders seem unwilling to acknowledge. A succession…

No, Boris Johnson doesn’t want to privatise the NHS. More’s the pity

For too long, we have measured success by inputs and refused to learn from best practice abroad

With the tedious regularity of Christmas songs playing at supermarkets in October and Love Actually repeats on ITV3, another unstoppable seasonal event is upon us – the NHS’s annual “Winter Crisis”. Newspapers are warning of “worst ever” pressures, predicting lengthy A&E delays for more than a million patients over Christmas. An unexpected December election has brought additional hysteria, keeping this popular political football in constant play. 

Attempting to distract from their leader’s evisceration by Andrew Neil earlier in the week, Labour have revived the old bogeyman of stealth Tory NHS privatisation….

Local intelligence and boots on the ground are what the Tories need to ensure they stay ahead in this election 

The recently published MRP election poll has confirmed the direction of the 2019 general election: a sizeable Conservative majority.  The Conservative strategy to position Boris and the party positively with the country’s Brexit majority is paying off handsomely at national level.  It appears that Labour’s campaign is unravelling under the triple burden of the public’s dislike and distrust of Corbyn, Brexit dither and anti-Semitism.  Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats are stuck in a Jo Swinson manufactured whiney rut, as choosing to position a previously centrist party as extreme by promising to revoke Article 50 has badly backfired.  King Boris and General Cummings must be looking across the political…