Boris Johnson’s rail plan is NOT a betrayal of the North and PM hasn’t broken his promises, under-fire minister insists

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BORIS Johnson’s rail plan isn’t a betrayal of the North and he hasn’t broken his promises to voters, an under-fire minister insisted today.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps came out swinging against critics of the £96 billion upgrade amid a hailstorm of fury.

Boris Johnson has faced fury over his decision to scrap the eastern leg of HS2
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defended the new rail package today

The PM’s decision to scrap the eastern leg of HS2 and downgrade a planned Manchester to Leeds link sparked anger.

Furious Tory MPs lined up to attack the decision and accused Boris of another U-turn at the end of a torrid week for No 10.

But today Mr Shapps insisted suggestions the Government has ditched its promises to Northern commuters are “not accurate”.

He said: “There’s £96bn being spent, virtually every area is receiving as good or better service than would have been under the original plans.

“It’s the first time spending that sort of money has been called robbery.

“Anyone really saying ‘we don’t get anything out’, it’s simply not true. These are massive improvements from where we are at the moment.

“This will have been the only time in history where massively improving everybody’s rail services would’ve been counted as a betrayal.”

Pressed on claims the Government is breaking its promises over HS2, he hit back: “They are absolutely being fulfilled.”

Government estimates of how much the Integrated rail review will cut journey times

He added the new plan will be delivered this decade, compared to a projected completion time of 2043 for full HS2.

Mr Shapps said that means commuters will be able to benefit quickly rather than “waiting for Never Neverland”.

And he said the original £185 billion price tag would’ve been “unaffordable” and required cuts to other services like the NHS.

It comes after furious Tories accused the PM of “derailing levelling up” as he massively scaled back the train revolution for the North.

Furious Red Wallers said they were “deeply disappointed” after the project was downgraded.

In a massive blow for the North, the Leeds leg of the HS2 high speed rail line ditched, while the Northern Powerhouse Rail line was downgraded.

While a new through station in Bradford has been scrapped.

Spooked Tory MPs warned the downgrade is the latest in a string of “broken promises” and will be used by Labour to hammer them locally.

One warned: “It is like on Bullseye when they show you what you could have won – and you find out you have missed out on a speed boat or swanky new car.”

Journey times slashed

Ministers say the rail plan will slash journey times across the Midlands and North and massively increase the number of trains laid on.

But Northern Powerhouse boss Henri Murison fumed: “Boris has derailed his own levelling up plans.

“A million miles from being enough.”

Rounding on the government in a fiery Common showdown, Senior Tory Huw Merriman, boss of the transport select committee, accused the PM of “selling perpetual sunlight and leaving the others to explain the arrival of moonlight”.

Tory Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley in Bradford, fumed: “The Bradford district has been, in my view, completely short-changed.”

Tory ex minister Sir Edward Leigh said: “HS2 was always a white elephant, but as far as the east coast is now concerned, it is a white elephant missing a leg.

“We were promised it would relieve congestion on the east coast mainline because it was going to go to Leeds.”

Another Northern Tory darkly warned: “We have broken promises on tax, the pensions triple lock and now rail.

“The danger is the public won’t stomach it.”

Sir Keir Starmer today vowed to build the full eastern leg of HS2 if he wins the next election.

The Labour leader said “the anger on the ground is palpable” over the decision to scrap the project.

He said: “What we’ve seen is a PM who made promises to the North of England, he’s then ripped up that promise, betrayed the North and exposed that the levelling up agenda is just a slogan.”