Secretary of State for Transport
The Rt Hon
Chris Grayling MP
This summer has been a season of change for British politics. In July the country voted to leave the European Union and, as the new Prime Minister has said, we are going to make a success of this opportunity.
When Theresa May first addressed the British people from Downing Street, she spoke of the precious union of our country but also the union of citizens,whoever and wherever we are. As Secretary of State for Transport, for me those words have extra meaning.Transport has a unique power to strengthen the links that exist between people and places.
Good transport helps bridge economic gaps between regions, allows businesses to reach new markets,connects families and gives people access to jobs, education and training. The task therefore is to build a transport network fit for the twenty-first century. I believe it is a task that entails three particular responsibilities.
The first responsibility is to provide the continuity needed to see our biggest transport projects through to completion. I know that building new transport infrastructure takes a long time; projects that were on the drawing board when I became Shadow Transport Secretary in 2005 are only now being delivered. My predecessor, Patrick McLoughlin, did a brilliant job making the case for new infrastructure and putting the plans into operation. As a result the biggest road and rail investment programmes for generations are now underway and we are on track to start building HS2 next year.
I have no intention of backing away from these projects. They are vital for our country’s future prosperity and I will give them the continuity of support that they need. Yet if continuity is needed in some areas, new opportunities are available in others. So our second responsibility is to seize them.
In particular, Britain’s vote to leave the European Unionis a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reshape our country’s standing in the world. Transport’s contribution will be to show that we are open for business, ready for investment and enhancing our global links. That is why in late July I was pleased to announce the expansion of London City Airport in a £344m investment by the airport’s operators.
Of course, one major decision ahead is on runway capacity in the south east; it is a decision we must get right but one we must take quickly. Yet the third responsibility is perhaps the most important. The Prime Minister’s vision of a more united country can only be realised if we stand firmly on the side of those to whom we are ultimately accountable. For me, that is the travelling public: the everyday drivers and passengers who depend on our nation’s transport. Throughout all the work ahead, my responsibility is to act in their interest.
That is how we will create the twenty-first century transport network the country needs.