TWO weeks ago, the HS2 project moved a step closer when the House of Commons voted, by a majority of over 400, to approve the first phase of the project from London to Birmingham.

I voted in favour as I believe that there will be significant benefits to the north west and Warrington in terms of jobs and economic growth.

Many people reading this will be familiar with the fact that so many young people assume they have to go to London to get started in a career. Both my daughters have migrated to London to get started in their careers.

It does not have to be like this.

We need a bigger share of the country's economic pie in the North and better transport is one way of facilitating this.

But we must also invest in other parts of our infrastructure.

Over the next 20 years HS2 represents 20 per cent of total rail spend. Equally important for us in the North is better links between East & West.

It is disgracefully difficult to travel to say Leeds by rail and I'm glad at long last government is fixing this.

But in my speech, I made clear, that I do not support the current route North of Manchester.

That is the bit that goes from Piccadilly to Wigan, bisecting parts of Culcheth in particular.

This is not nimbyism but is because that part of the route costs ᆪ1billion and there is no business case for it - the projected benefits accrue because we connect London to Manchester, Cheshire and Liverpool.

The arguments in favour of the Wigan spur, appear to be the location of a goods yard at Wigan and 10 mins off the journey to Glasgow. These do not stack up to ᆪ1billion.

I have spoken to the Head of HS2 David Higgins and Patrick McLoughlin, the secretary of state, about this and have made it clear that I will vote against this route if it is not changed when the final route is announced later this year.

I believe this is a battle which can be won. You can read my speech on