Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told the National Infrastructure Forum that investment in infrastructure is “now even more important” after the European Union (EU) referendum.
Speaking at the event, McLoughlin said that he believed the country’s economic fundamentals remain strong.
“It means we have the best possible tools to tackle the challenges ahead. And as we face up to the enormity of our task, be reassured. Our work is not yet done,” said McLoughlin.
“HS2 will rebalance our economy and generate colossal benefits for the supply chain. As the National Audit Office confirmed…this project is on track. We are making progress on HS3, or Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will transform the North, alongside the £13bn we are spending improving transport in the area,” he added.
“And as we address the future and the consequences of our vote to leave the European Union, one thing is certain. Investment in the long-term infrastructure we need has become more important, not less.”
McLoughlin recalled chancellor George Osborne’s decision in 2010 not to cancel Crossrail despite advice that the money would be better spent paying down the national debt.
“Thank goodness the chancellor saw it differently,” said McLoughlin. “Yes, we could have used the Crossrail funding to pay down our debt. But diverting that investment would only create new problems down the line. The economic boost and extra capacity that Crossrail is bringing is badly needed.”
McLoughlin also reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to airport expansion in the South East.
“We remain committed to expansion [of aviation capacity]. And we remain committed to delivering runway capacity on the timetable set out by Sir Howard Davies. This remains one of the most important decisions for the Government to take,” he said.