Rishi Sunak has come under fire for his alleged "great rail betrayal" after hinting at the possibility of cancelling the Manchester leg of the HS2 project. This move has provoked strong reactions from Red Wall MPs who have repeatedly demanded clarification on whether the high-speed train will still reach the city.
Tories Accused of 'Abandoning North'
The Conservative government has faced heavy criticism for allegedly abandoning the north by considering the removal of the Manchester leg of HS2, which is already significantly over budget. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the line would not even run to central London, further fueling concerns that the project is being scaled back.
Transport Minister Dodges Questions
Transport Minister Richard Holden faced tough questioning on whether HS2 will still connect Birmingham to Manchester. While denying accusations of abandoning the north, he highlighted that MPs would be regularly updated on the progress of the project.
Conservative Sceptics Join the Fray
Even within the Conservative party, there are calls for the entire HS2 project to be scrapped. Tory MP Greg Smith warned that axing the Manchester leg would leave a "legless stump," adding that the remaining portion of phase one should also be abandoned.
Labour Commits to Completing HS2
Labour has pledged to build HS2 to Manchester and reinstate the northeast leg to Leeds if the party wins power. Shadow Cabinet Minister Nick Thomas-Symonds emphasized their commitment to completing both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in full, declaring it a clear pledge from their side.