Where I find myself more in line with mainstream opinion in Wales is with the idea that infrastructure projects (of which HS2 is one) are a good way of boosting a flagging economy, and that investing in them can create economic growth and jobs, as well as boosting skills and knowledge in the economy. It was in that context that I was astounded to see that on his trade mission to China, the Chancellor has urged Chinese firms to bid for construction contracts on the project.
‘Scope creep’ is one of those things which can all too easily happen on any project, but for it to lead to the mission becoming the opposite of the original intention is a rare achievement. Osborne went to China to drum up business for British companies, with the stated aim of China becoming the second biggest customer for British companies. There is currently a significant gap between the level of the UK's exports to China (at around £16.7 billion), and imports from China (t around £37.6 billion) - see Figure 2 here, so his aim of increasing UK exports to China is a wholly reasonable one. But, instead of that, he’s ended up trying to drum up business for Chinese companies in the UK. Even if the Chinese companies would employ local workers to carry out the work, the profits (and the tax on them) would still end up being syphoned out the UK economy rather than reinvested here.
It’s another take on being ‘business-friendly’ I suppose – it’s just other countries’ businesses that he’s supporting.