Rishi Sunak’s Dilemma: The HS2 Decision Looms

Rishi Sunak’s Stance on HS2

As the debate over the fate of the northern leg of the HS2 line continues, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has emphasized that he will not be rushed into making “premature decisions.”

The uncertainty surrounding the project’s future due to cost concerns has left many speculating about its fate, but Sunak has refrained from providing clarity.

HS2 and the Conservative Party Conference

Rishi Sunak, currently attending the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, has the opportunity to address the HS2 issue during his speech.

While there is widespread anticipation that he might announce the cancellation of the project, he may also choose to offset this decision by allocating funds to other Northern projects.

Ballooning Costs of HS2

Initially budgeted at £55.7 billion in 2015, the costs of the HS2 project have significantly exceeded this estimate, reaching as high as £98 billion in 2019 prices.

The impact of soaring inflation likely pushed these costs even higher.

Perceptions of Chaos at the Party Conference

The debate over HS2 has dominated discussions at the Conservative Party conference, leading to questions about the event’s organization.

However, Sunak has rejected claims of chaos, emphasizing that difficult decisions are a part of leadership.

A Possible Change in Terminus

Reports suggest that Rishi Sunak may announce that the HS2 line will terminate in Euston, central London, instead of Old Oak Common.

This change is a result of lobbying within his Cabinet.

Mixed Reactions and Concerns

Various political figures, including Tory mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and Labour’s Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, have expressed concerns about the potential cancellation of the link between Birmingham and Manchester.

Sunak faces criticism but maintains his commitment to making challenging decisions.

Compensatory Measures and Future Planning

To mitigate the impact of curtailing HS2, additional projects such as the Northern Powerhouse Rail expansion, improvements to potholes, and enhancements to bus routes may be announced.

These initiatives aim to appease those affected by the project’s possible cancellation.

A Decision Against Past Prime Ministers’ Stances

Notably, a decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2 would go against the preferences of former Tory prime ministers Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and David Cameron.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has indicated that no formal decision has been made.

Rishi Sunak’s Vision for the Country

Rishi Sunak’s leadership style involves prioritizing long-term national interests over short-term popularity.

He is prepared to persuade the public that his decisions are in the best interest of the country, even if they are met with resistance.