HS2 costs are 'enormous' and 'escalated far beyond budget', Rishi Sunak says as Manchester leg to be scrapped | The SunOctober 3, 2023
THE cost of HS2 is "enormous" and has "escalated far beyond what anyone thought", Rishi Sunak insisted today.
On the third day of Tory Party Conference, the PM all but admitted that the Manchester leg of the project will be scrapped.
Amid huge pressure from Tory MPs and members to finally confirm its fate, Mr Sunak told Times Radio: "It's clear that the costs of this programme has escalated far beyond what anyone thought at the beginning."
He added: "I know there's lots of speculation on it, but what I would say is I'll approach this in the same way I approach everything in this job, I will take the time to look at it properly, get across the detail and then decide what's right for the country.
"The sums involved are enormous and it's right that the Prime Minister takes proper care over it.
"It's obviously not my money – it's taxpayers' money and we should make the right decisions on these things."
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The PM is expected to finally confirm plans for HS2 tomorrow during his major conference speech.
The address to party faithful and the public will be a make or break moment for Mr Sunak who will need to successfully sell his ideas and vision or risk a hammering at next year's general election.
Over the past week confusion around HS2 has cast a huge shadow over the speech.
But the PM is expected to finally say that he wants to invest the £36bn it would cost to build HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester into regional transport links in the Midlands and North.
Yesterday, Conservative conference came off the rails as Tories told the PM they would fight to keep HS2.
The warning came when a row over scrapping the high speed rail link blew up as the Chancellor took to the stage.
Jeremy Hunt’s big speech was overshadowed by claims the PM will use his own address tomorrow to announce the Manchester leg of the bungled rail project will be axed.
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But the Tory West Midlands Mayor Andy Street threatened to resign on the steps of the main conference hotel, telling the PM: “I won’t let HS2 go without a fight.”
He said: “If you tell the international investment community you are going to do something, you bloody well have to stick to your word.”
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