The foreign secretary has cast further doubt on whether or not HS2 will ever reach Manchester, despite telling Sky News the prime minister is “absolutely committed to levelling up” – which includes the high-speed rail project.
The government only has until Tuesday this week to tell MPs about a large change to plans for the railway line, before the Commons then breaks for the conference recess until 16 October.
Labour is also being cautious with the multi-billion pound railway, with shadow chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster Pat McFadden telling the BBC that “we want to see the railway being built, but we’ve also – like everything else – got to look at the cost of everything we do”.
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In March this year, the government announced a two-year delay to the section of the project between Birmingham and Manchester, with services not expected to begin running on that part of the line until the 2040s.
Some estimates put the total cost of HS2 at over £100bn, and the project was rated “unachievable” by the infrastructure watchdog.
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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is the most senior minister to be asked about recent reports the branch to Manchester may now be completely axed.
He told Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: “It’s an important piece of infrastructure, the prime minister is absolutely committed to levelling up. This is part of that levelling up.”
Asked if this meant the line would run to Manchester, the foreign secretary said: “We’ve always got to make sure that the sequencing is right.
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This notice was published: 2023-09-17 10:18:00
Sky News is a British 24-hour information television channel, the first in Europe of its kind, launched on February 5, 1989 by the British Sky Broadcasting Company.