Private Rail Bosses Come Running To Ministers With A Begging Bowl; Lord Adonis Slams “Stupid” Chris Grayling
Mr Grayling’s approach is symptomatic of a government that has “broken down” under the strain of Brexit.

Lord Adonis who quit as infrastructure tsar on Friday, has called for the resignation of transport secretary Chris Grayling for using hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ money to bail out private rail companies.

Mr Adonis said the decision to allow Virgin Trains East Coast to walk away early from a £3.3bn contract is symptomatic of a government that has “broken down” under the strain of Brexit.

Former Labour Minister believed Mr Grayling’s decision could cost taxpayers billions and result in him being sacked from the Cabinet for wasting public funds.

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Mr Adonis said the secretary’s position would “become untenable” because of the deal, which would lead to “a slashing of the national infrastructure programme and even bigger fare rises”.

“I think Chris Grayling’s position is going to become untenable. It is of a piece with him being a radical Brexiter to whom everything is subordinate to hard-right ideology.” He said.

While Mr Grayling rejected the charges made against him by Lord Adonis, he faces the prospect of an investigation into the franchise by the powerful Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The Labour peer said his relations with the government had become severely strained over Brexit in recent months, but it was Mr Grayling’s move to bail out Stagecoach and Virgin, which were contracted to run the East Coast line until 2023, that was the final straw.

During an interview with the Observer, Lord Adonis said: “Handing a cheque worth hundreds of millions of pounds to Richard Branson and [Stagecoach chair] Brian Souter would be indefensible at the best of times but we are now at the worst of times with a Brexit squeeze on the public finances and with rail fares going through the roof,”

He added Mr Grayling is forced to defend a massive bailout to the private sector, “the question will be asked by the public accounts committee and the National Audit Office – why didn’t you adopt the alternative course which was to set up state companies to avoid the need for a bailout? He has no answer to that. He deliberately avoided doing so for ideological reasons and he was not even upfront about not doing so.”

Virgin Trains East Coast involving Stagecoach and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin, had agreed to pay the Government £3.3bn to run the service until 2023. A new East Coast Partnership will instead take on responsibility for both intercity trains and track operations on the route in 2020.

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