Rishi Sunak continues to stall on HS2 announcement

As rumors about the PM scrapping the line’s Birmingham to Manchester portion continue to circulate, pressure is mounting on him to make a statement. But the PM steadfastly declined to say whether it will proceed. On BBC Breakfast, when asked repeatedly if HS2 will extend all the way to Manchester, he responded, “I know there’s plenty of speculation, but all I can say is I’m not going to be pressured into a premature decision because it’s nice for someone’s TV program. Making the best choice for the nation is what I want to do. Insisting that “we’re having a good time,” Mr. Sunak dismissed claims that the matter distracted from his party’s annual convention in Manchester and that the handling of any announcement had been inadequate. He insisted “We are having a Both HS2 proponents and detractors of the Tories are angry that the matter has been allowed to overshadow the party conference’’. 

CE, which may be the final until the upcoming general election in 2024. There were indications on Monday that an announcement about the future of HS2 was coming after weeks of rumors and leaks, but Downing Street stressed no final decision had been made. There is now a growing hope that the prime minister’s conference speech on Wednesday will provide official confirmation. To counter claims that the government is giving up on its goal of bringing the country up to par, any decision to cut back the project may be followed with a promise to invest in other transportation projects in the northern part of England.

The significance of east-west connections has recently come up in ministers’ responses to inquiries about HS2. For instance, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) seeks to enhance connectivity between Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds. However, the project has been planned to connect with HS2 utilizing a portion of the high-speed line, and if HS2 does not continue to Manchester, this will raise the cost of NPR. Several prominent Conservatives have pleaded with the prime minister to keep the Manchester leg. Phase two of HS2 to Manchester’s cancellation, according to former chancellor George Osborne, “would be a great tragedy” and a “great opportunity to deliver for northern voters.” NPR, he continued, was not a replacement for HS2, and the two initiatives “should proceed together.”

West Midlands Tory mayor Andy Street made a dramatic intervention on Monday, saying that eliminating the Manchester leg would be like “canceling the future” and risk harming the UK’s reputation abroad “as a place to invest.”  Although Mr. Street recognized that the expenses were “escalating,” he claimed to be working on a new finance scheme for the project that would entail additional private investment.