Nick Ferrari became frustrated with Mark Harper during his LBC interview
LBC’sNick Ferrari slammed the transport secretary over the government’s new proposals for transport reforms in the north which will replace HS2.
The government announced it was dropping the northern leg of the high speed rail to Manchester during the Conservative conference – in Manchester – at the start of October.
Now, it has revealed what it intends to do with the money which would have paid for the extended railway – although, Ferrari was distinctly unimpressed.
Speaking to Mark Harper on Monday, he started off by criticising the timing of Rishi Sunak’sHS2 announcement.
The present said: “Secretary of state, do you really expect my listeners to believe that on the Tuesday, when we were all up at the Conservative conference, the prime minister said he was yet to decide the future of HS2 – and on Wednesday, a 40-page prospectus was released?
“Were you up all night writing this, or, yet again, he misled the British public didn’t he?”
“No he didn’t,” Harper said.
Ferrari asked Harper to “please walk me through that”, to which the transport secretary said the decision was made before that but not approved by the cabinet until Wednesday, when Rishi Sunak announced it.
Then, once Harper confirmed that he had helped come up wit the new plan, Ferrari said: “It’s time to mark your homework.”
He rattled off a list of flaws with the strategy, noting: “The front page of the prospectus puts Manchester where Preston is, and the new funding to Greater Manchester city would open the network link tram network to Manchester airport – which has already been open nine years.
“It would also seem to indicate that Plymouth is in the North, and as for the Sheffield to Leeds trains, that would quadruple the number of trains – and there’s already five an hour.
“You signed off on that parcel of cobblers, did you?”
Harper defended the Manchester line, pointing out that it goes to just one of the terminals at the moment – and it’s going to be extended to a second terminal.
The presenter replied with sarcasm: “Oh hallelujah – what’s that, a couple of miles? Please, Mr Harper!”
He continued: “Look, I don’t mind you taking the mickey, but it’s my listeners I feel sorry for.
“You’re managing to get from terminal 1 to terminal 2, or terminal south to terminal north!” Ferrari scoffed.
“That was one example,” Harper replied.
But Ferrari continued: “You’ve done the big journey. You’ve got from the city to the airport! You’re just adding the next spur.”
Harper said there were hundreds of examples about how transport in the region is being improved, particularly with buses.
So the LBC presenter started to pick apart a different policy, and asked: “Why do we need the service between Leeds and Sheffield every three minutes?”
Harper said fast trains are getting more frequent, and there are new stations and new lines in Bradford.
'I don't mind you taking the mickey, but it's my listeners I feel sorry for.'
Deeming the government’s Network North promises as a ‘parcel of cobblers’, @NickFerrariLBC urges Transport Secretary @Mark_J_Harper to do his ‘homework’. pic.twitter.com/7GRIkZvA2G
— LBC (@LBC) October 23, 2023
He also said he was talking to West Midlands mayor and fellow Conservative, Andy Street, about bus expansion.
Ferrari then changed tack, and recalled how Jacob Rees-Mogg – a former cabinet minister under Boris Johnson – slammed the Tories at the weekend, saying the party was in a “catatonic state” not seen since the time of Henry VI.
“When even Jacob has problems with the Conservatives, you’re in a pretty bad place aren’t you, secretary of state?” the presenter said.
Harper replied: “Look I wouldn’t agree with that characterisation.”
He then said Ferrari was nitpicking over the transport policies he announced, adding: “Fundamentally, we’re taking £36 billion of savings from cancelling the second phase of HS2, which wouldn’t have delivered any trains to Manchester until 2041.
“We’re taking that money and delivering transport projects across the country sooner, the sorts of transport that people use every day of the week.”
But Ferrari pushed: “Why does Sir Jacob feel the way Sir Jacob does?”
“Well I don’t know – we’re certainly not behaving like that in the transport department,” he said.