All aboard for HS2? Tunnel vision could yet win the day

Some bookmakers now make Cheryl Gillan the favourite as the next minister to leave the UK cabinet.

The odds on her were shortened after the transport secretary, Justine Greening, gave the go-ahead for a high-speed rail link through her Buckinghamshire constituency.

It's said you'll never see a poor bookie but unless Paddy Power and co have an insight into David Cameron's next reshuffle I'd resist the temptation to have a flutter.

Ms Greening announced plans to "mitigate" the impact of HS2, including a tunnel through the Chilterns. It doesn't go far enough to pacify some Tories in Chesham and Amersham but may have been enough to persuade Mrs Gillan to withdraw her resignation threat.

According to Justine Greening, the Welsh secretary is already on side. This is what she told the Commons: "I thoroughly agree with her [CG] that we have ended up with the right line, with the right mitigation".

Is that a fair precis of Ms Gillan's position? Does the secretary of state now agree with government policy? Questions I've put to the Wales Office and her parliamentary office without reply.

Ms Greening was keen to defend her cabinet colleague from the barbs of Labour and Plaid Cymru MPs who complained that the government was spending a reported £500m on a tunnel to keep Mrs Gillan in a job.

The transport secretary said the tunnel would actually save between £250m and £300m and that Mrs Gillan had done a "damn good job" representing her constituents, who have campaigned against the £32bn project.

That led Labour MP Kevin Brennan to ponder why if tunnels are cheaper: "Why aren't you burying the whole line?"

Ms Greening explained that it was a "complex" engineering issue linked to the spoil created.