PM risks 'chaos' if he scraps Manchester HS2, warns Gordon Brown

25 September 2023, 09:32 | Updated: 25 September 2023, 09:56

Gordon Brown said scrapping part of HS2 'doesn't make sense after all the work that's been done'
Gordon Brown said scrapping part of HS2 'doesn't make sense after all the work that's been done'. Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Rishi Sunak risks "confusion and chaos" if he scraps HS2 to Manchester, Gordon Brown has warned.

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The former prime minister told LBC he would leave Britain stuck with 19th century solutions if he bins the next section.

Ministers have refused to say whether the expensive train line will now go to Manchester as previously promised.

And it may stop at Old Oak Common in outer London rather than go all the way to Euston.

Downing Street has stressed no decisions have yet been made.

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Former PM Mr Brown told Nick Ferrari this morning: "Something’s got to be done to show the costs can be kept down.

"If you embark on a big infrastructure project you cause confusion & chaos if you just give up on a project half way through.

"It does not make sense for us to give up all the work that has been done."

He did acknowledge that "something's got to be done to show that the cost can be kept down".

Mr Brown added: "I think it's very sad that we can't get an agreement on this basic infrastructure. You know, every country in Europe is doing high speed rail. It's becoming the norm rather than the exception. And Britain is in danger of having 19th century solutions to 21st century problems."

He called for an "all party consensus" to work through the issues.

Earlier this morning Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he would be writing to the PM to demand an urgent meeting over the project.

And he suggested that he would prefer it to be delayed rather than ditched altogether.

The Tories are set to hold their annual conference in Manchester this year, which starts on Sunday, putting the PM up for an uncomfortable week if he chooses to axe it.

Tory MP Steve Brine told the BBC last night it would be "odd" to do it just says before the gathering.

And he said that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt would do all he could to ensure it does go ahead.

Last week Mr Hunt told LBC

The line, which was due to connect London to the North of England via Birmingham, is already years behind schedule and billions over budget.