Rishi Sunak filmed video cancelling HS2 days before Tory conference announcement - despite saying he'd not decided

5 October 2023, 10:44 | Updated: 5 October 2023, 10:55

Rishi Sunak filmed video of his HS2 announcement in Downing Street ahead of Tory conference
Rishi Sunak filmed video of his HS2 announcement in Downing Street ahead of Tory conference. Picture: Alamy/social media

By StephenRigley

Rishi Sunak filmed a video in Downing Street confirming the scrapping of HS2 - despite then insisting for days after that no decision had been taken.

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Until yesterday the PM insisted no decision on the future of HS2 had been reached. But a video released after his Tory Party Conference speech appeared to have been shot in Downing Street - meaning it would have been recorded before Sunday.

Mr Sunak and other senior ministers spent the bulk of the Conservative conference refusing to comment on the future of the controversial rail link.

Ministers today defended the Government over the row, while Mr Sunak himself declined an opportunity to apologise to the North for "false promises" on HS2.

Read More: Rishi's on the wrong track: David Cameron and George Osborne slam decision to scrap HS2 northern leg

Read More: HS2 extension scrapped and £36bn to be spent on new transport projects in the North, says Rishi Sunak

In his social media video, posted yesterday, the PM hailed his plans for a new 'Network North' - a series of transport projects that he is aiming to fund through £36billion in savings from cancelling HS2.

He said: "How are we able to do this? Because I am stopping all phases of HS2 beyond Birmingham and we will reinvest every single penny saved into transport projects across the North and Midlands."

Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murthy after conference speech
Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murthy after conference speech. Picture: Alamy

But, during the four-day Tory conference, the PM had repeatedly refused to confirm he'd taken a decision on HS2 despite intense speculation about his plans.

A spokeswoman for Mr Sunak said: "Cabinet made the decision yesterday."

The PM's choice to scrap the northern leg to Manchester has prompted a fierce backlash.

Former Tory PMs Boris Johnson and David Cameron have led the criticism which has also included northern leaders.

But the PM declined to apologise for "false promises" on high speed rail, saying: "No, what I want to say to everybody is that what we are doing is going to be better. It is going to be better for our country.

"You keep using the word scrap but what we are doing is replacing HS2 with something that is going to benefit far more people in far more places and far quicker."

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