Former transport secretary and HS2 architect Andrew Adonis. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Andrew Adonis hits out at Osborne's "pure spin" over HS3

Former transport secretary says the coalition should focus on delivering HS2 earlier.

George Osborne's speech championing a new east-west rail link between Manchester and Leeds (dubbed "HS3") to create a "northern global powerhouse" has earned him praise from some unusual quarters. Joe Anderson, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, congratulated the Chancellor on his "bold step" during the Q&A that followed his address.

But one person who isn't impressed is Andrew Adonis, the former transport secretary and the architect of HS2. Adonis, whose growth review for Labour will be published next week (and which Osborne's speech was viewed as pre-empting), told me that the Chancellor was indulging in "pure spin" and should focus on ensuring HS2 is completed by the 2020s.

He said:

It's not going to be a high-speed line, he's just making a big thing of further upgrading the line. The big thing the north needs is to get HS2 in the 2020s, rather than the 2030s. What they've done is to divide HS2 at Birmingham, meaning the North will not see HS2 until the 2030s, whereas what they should have done, and I would have done, is to treat HS2 as one project, getting it up to Leeds and Manchester in the 2020s and of course that would have transformed connections between the North, the Midlands and London - the three big economic centres of geography would have been linked.

At present, phase one of HS2, running between London and Birmingham, is due to be completed by 2026, but phase two, running from the Midlands to Leeds and Manchester, won't be completed until at least 2032. Adonis added:

So having put the kibosh on that one, what he now does is to leapfrog the government's own failure by announcing a scheme which is in fact is only a further upgrade of a scheme that's already been announced, it's not a new high-speed line.

It implies that HS2 is now done, so we can move on to HS3; HS2 is not done, they stopped it at Birmingham. The vote two months ago was on the London to Birmingham stretch, they still haven't published a route north of Birmingham four years after I published an outline route.

The north needs HS2, that's what it needs. I'm not against any of these proposals, but to imply that they've done HS2 and now they're moving on to HS3 is, I'm afraid, just pure spin. HS2 does not exist at the moment north of Birmingham as a scheme, let alone as a project that's actually being implemented.

Expect Adonis's review, which Labour regards as its equivalent of Michael Heseltine's No Stone Unturned report (which it criticises the government for failing to embrace), to set out a far more ambitious vision next week.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.