HS2 Manchester leg 'set to be scrapped' as Burnham says Tories are treating Northerners ‘like second class citizens’

2 October 2023, 15:36 | Updated: 2 October 2023, 17:06

Speculation is growing that ministers are about to bin the Manchester leg of HS2
Speculation is growing that ministers are about to bin the Manchester leg of HS2. Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

The Tories are treating Northerners “like second class citizens”, Andy Burnham has said - as speculation grows ministers are about to bin the Manchester leg of HS2.

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The Manchester Mayor told LBC he has been “completely shut out” of discussions on the high speed rail line as he is meeting with ministers today to discuss its future.

No10 today slapped down speculation that the PM is imminently to announce the ditching of the Northern part of the line in a bid to save cash.

Mr Burnham told LBC he was “not aware” he even had a reply from the PM about his request for a meeting last week.

He said the discussions around binning it was “frustrating” and it would have “epic implications for the North if we get left with Victorian rail infrastructure”.

Andy Burnham: Tories are treating Northerners ‘like second class citizens’

Read more: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says taxes are ‘too high’ in Britain - but can’t say when they might come down

“Why is it always people in the North who are treated as second class citizens when it comes to transport investment?”

He urged them not to scrap it, because it would be hugely damaging to other transport links in the North and would deter investment.

Mr Burnham added: “None of it should be scrapped.

“Who has let that cost spiral out of control? I mean, we've had almost 15 years of indecision under this government and chopping and changing the scheme and that has led the cost spiral out of control.

“It's pretty unfair to me that the North of England pay for that mismanagement.”

And he piled pressure on Labour to commit to building the whole thing in full when they meet for their annual gathering in Liverpool next week.

When grilled on whether he wanted to see Sir Keir Starmer make such a promise, he replied: “Of course, I'm not going to say not.

“Obviously, that may need to be looked at in the light of whatever the government announces. I'd be really keen to talk to Keir, and shadow ministers next week.

“Levelling up cannot happen in my view, without that big strategic infrastructure.”

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