Rishi Sunak Under Fire Over Potential Scrapping of HS2 Manchester Leg

Rishi Sunak Under Fire Over Potential Scrapping of HS2 Manchester Leg

Rishi Sunak Faces Backlash Over Potential HS2 Manchester Leg Cancellation

As the Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester draws near, tensions are rising within the party over the possible cancellation of the HS2 Manchester leg.

Critics are warning that such a move could lead to political turmoil just days before the conference.

Growing Opposition to Scrapping HS2’s Northern Extension

Amid signs that the government is considering downgrading the HS2 project due to escalating costs, prominent figures within the Conservative Party, including former Chancellor George Osborne and Lord Heseltine, are speaking out against the potential cancellation.

They describe it as a “gross act of vandalism” that would abandon the North and Midlands.

HS2’s Troubled Journey: A Brief History

The HS2 project has faced numerous challenges and controversies throughout its development.

From concerns over its cost to debates about its environmental impact, the railway’s fate has remained uncertain.

Anxiety Over London Terminus and Funding

Besides the Manchester leg, there are worries about the termination of HS2 in the suburbs of London rather than its originally envisioned central London route.

Additionally, reports suggest that a major Tory donor is threatening to withdraw funding if the project is significantly scaled back.

Rishi Sunak’s Dilemma: Scrapping or Scaling Down?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, are expected to meet to discuss the potential cancellation of the northern leg of HS2.

This decision will have significant implications and will set the stage for the government’s Autumn Statement in November.

Defence Secretary Weighs In

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, a former transport secretary, has emphasized the need to review HS2’s escalating costs.

He cautions against continuing the project without a thorough assessment of the financial implications.

Political Ramifications: Scrapping HS2 in Manchester

Conservative MPs express concerns about the timing of the potential announcement, as it coincides with the party’s pre-election conference in Manchester.

Some also advocate for the railway to extend into central London rather than stopping in the western suburbs.

Mixed Reactions Within the Party

While some Conservative MPs call for the project’s continuation as a means of narrowing the North-South divide, others acknowledge the need to address rising costs and uncertainties surrounding HS2’s future.

Impact Beyond the Conservatives

London Mayor Sadiq Khan warns that the project could become a “colossal waste of public money” if the northern leg is scrapped, emphasizing the importance of its extension into central London.

Labour’s Stance and Regional Concerns

Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, accuses the government of treating the North like “second-class citizens” by forcing a choice between HS2 and a cross-Pennine East-West route.

Labour faces pressure to commit to funding the line to Manchester if the Conservatives decide to axe it.

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