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Tory conference: PM continues to dodge HS2 question as rumour of axe dominates Tory conference | Politics News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has continued to dodge questions on the future of HS2, despite the issue dominating his party’s conference in Manchester.

Sky News reported on Monday that the northern leg of the high speed rail line between Birmingham and Manchester will be axed after weeks of speculation.

The confirmation led to even more uproar from politicians, with the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, saying cancelling the line would be “turning your back on an opportunity to level up – a once in a generation opportunity.

Read more: Number 10 says PM’s speech ‘worth waiting for’ – follow Tory conference live

But while Downing Street said officially that “no final decisions have been taken”, sources gave Sky News’ Mhari Aurora “the heaviest hint yet” that HS2 would feature in the prime minister’s conference speech on Wednesday – and his remarks would be “worth waiting for”.

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Chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, says ‘it’s time for the PM to grow up’

In a series of interviews this morning, Mr Sunak declined once again to give a yes or no answer over the final destination of the project.

Pushed on the topic by the BBC, he said: “I know there’s a lot of speculation on HS2. All I would say is the way I approach this job, I take a look at the facts, I take my time to get the decision right on behalf of the country – whatever it might be – and that’s what I’ll do with this, as I do with everything else.”

In an increasingly tetchy interview, the prime minister denied Number 10’s handling of the situation had been poor, before adding: “I am not going to be forced into a premature decision because its good for someone’s TV programme. What I want to do is make the right decision for the country.”

And speaking to Good Morning Britain, he said a decision would be taken “when we have gone through it properly”.

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Sky News’ Sophy Ridge asks West Midlands Mayor Andy Street if he will quit if HS2 gets axed.

First touted by Labour in 2009, HS2 has been a core pledge of the Conservative government, but it has been plagued by soaring costs and continued delays.

The initial opening date of 2026 has fallen back to 2033, while the price tag is estimated to have spiralled from about £33bn in 2010 to £100bn, despite the eastern leg of the line to Leeds being scrapped.

Rumours of the northern line being scrapped has upset people on all sides of the political spectrum, with Tory grandees and Labour stalwarts slamming the prospect.

But it is not just the northern section of the project that has encountered trouble, as doubts remaining over the future of Euston station in London, with reports services will terminate at Old Oak Common – a suburb of west London.

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