Campaigners fighting against plans for a high speed railway line have announced plans to run a slate of independent MPs at the next General Election.
The Stop HS2 group has said that, should Transport Secretary Philip Hammond give the route the go-ahead in December, they will seek to contest parliamentary seats along the route.
With the proposed line set to cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages, that could see candidates standing in the region.
Stop HS2’s Joe Rukin, who stood in the last general election to raise awareness of the campaign, said: “HS2 is the perfect example of how the system has failed.
“It started off with Lord Adonis, an unelected and unaccountable official telling the Department for Transport not to look at what was best for the rail infrastructure, but simply to design a high speed rail line to Birmingham and justify it. There was no discussion about whether or not it was a good idea and this is still the case.
“If Philip Hammond gets up in Parliament in December and says he’s decided to go ahead, he will be giving a go ahead to spending £817m before a brick is laid, without a vote, purely on his nod. If he does that, he will have given us no choice.
“Many MPs have been highly supportive of the campaign. We thank them for that and it is unlikely they would face a challenge. However, with the Ministers who have said they might resign because of HS2, we have to say that if Philip Hammond says he is pressing ahead as expected in December, that moment is your deadline.”
The group say they will aim to meet the cost of parliamentary deposits in the new year by inviting financial pledges from the general public.
“At the last election, HS2 was a new thing,” explained Mr Rukin. “But it has been the single biggest issue staying in the public sphere in many areas, simply because of just how bad a plan it is, and to even think of it at this time is beyond bizarre.
“There is already enough of a groundswell in terms of public opinion for this to translate into an impact on election results in some areas and this will only get bigger and more widespread. There are many MPs north of Lichfield whose support for HS2 will be challenged when more of their constituents know what it really means, and they have to start thinking about that.
“The bottom line is that any MP blindly supporting HS2 clearly hasn’t understood or been willing to listen to the case againstit. We hope our plans will prompt debate within all the main political parties and action from more MPs. However, if the Government confirms the plans for HS2 in December, the one certainty will be the total uproar in the previously loyal Conservative seats that are impacted by the line.”