First George Osborne got it in the neck from his constituents because HS2 was set to pass through Tatton, as we revealed on Saturday.
Now the chancellor is getting criticised for the opposite reason – that the controversial route will not pass through the most verdant areas of the north-west constituency.
The Daily Mail reports today that Tory-run Cheshire East council issued a press release yesterday suggesting the chancellor had kept the line from Tatton’s “Golden Triangle” of Prestbury, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge.
“Your MPs George Osborne, Edward Timpson and I (council leader Michael Jones) have fought hard to keep the line away from Knutsford and Tatton, which we have been successful in achieving”, said the release.
Critics, in the words, of the Mail, “accused ministers of double standards because the preferred route does not run in a straight line as it largely does on the rest of the route”. The line passes like an arrow through the Tory heartlands of the Chilterns.
Within hours the council retracted its statement, saying it had made a mistake. Mr Osborne’s statement said that the chancellor had never sought to influence the route while the DfT said the chancellor could not of known of the other route options before the full reports were published.
But Ed Miliband picked up the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions:
“The part-time chancellor should spend more time worrying about the economy and less time wondering how to divert the high-speed rail route away from his constituency”.
David Cameron pointed out that the line does still pass through Tatton (albeit not through the most lovely parts) contrary to the opposition leader’s words:
“It goes through the middle of the chancellor’s constituency: we’re proud of the fact that it is this government which takes the decisions to invest.”