Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky News that “the hints seem pretty clear” on the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2. Photo: Adam Vaughan/Shutterstock
Senior Conservative MPs backed the expected decision to scrap the northern link of HS2 as Rishi Sunak denied the issue had overshadowed the party's annual conference.
Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former businessman Secretary of State, led members in welcoming the predicted announcement that the Birmingham to Manchester section of the high-speed rail would be cancelled.
The Prime Minister insisted that the row over HS2 did not distract attention from politics. statements already made by senior party figures during the Manchester conference.
He is understood to have already made the decision to cancel the Birmingham to Manchester match, which he is expected to announce in his keynote speech on Wednesday. However, Downing Street said no final decisions had been made.
In an interview with Sky News, Sir Jacob said it would be “reasonable” for a project whose costs have risen sharply in recent times. years and could reach more than £100 billion, but will then be cut.
HS2 site on Curzon Street in Birmingham, at the southern end of the site, which could be demolished. Photo: Darren Staples/Bloomberg
Asked why Mr Sunak had not publicly confirmed the decision, he said: “I assume it has to do with Cabinet approval.” must be provided, and the Cabinet does not usually meet during the party conference. But the hints seem quite clear and, in my opinion, very reasonable.
“I think it would be reasonable to announce that this is the intention. Why does this take time? Well, that's a lot of money. The decision you make is whether you will spend many tens of billions of pounds?
Sir John Redwood, who headed No 10's political unit under Margaret Thatcher, tweeted: “Nationalized rail system management needs to think through what their passengers want, with five days a week train journeys now down.
” Spending priorities should be based on improving service reliability and addressing local capacity shortages and causes of delays.”
Proposing a review of the southern section of HS2, Sir John added: “If the government cancels HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester but continues to spend heavily [on] Old Oak Common to Euston, they will need a very convincing package of transport improvements for the North.”
Mr Sunak has faced backlash from other senior figures in his party over the plans, with Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, repeatedly refusing to rule out resigning if Birmingham went to Manchester. the leg is cut off.
Boris Johnson and Theresa May, two of his predecessors, also opposed any changes to the planned route.
On Tuesday he was asked if he accepted the handling of the HS2 ad was “poor” and distracted from other events At the conference, Mr Sunak told BBC Breakfast: “No, I don't think so. We're actually having a great conference.”
He insisted he had not “abandoned” HS2 and argued the government's levelling-up program was much bigger than the project itself.
“I know you want to keep asking, I know there is a lot of speculation,” Mr Sunak said. “But all I can say is that I won't be forced to make a premature decision because it will benefit someone's TV program.
“I want to make the right decision for the country. This is a lot of people's money. Taxpayers' money. Everyone is watching. Billions and billions of pounds. We shouldn't rush into these things.”