ishi Sunak has denied that people feel betrayed by his wavering over the future of HS2.
The Prime Minister, giving a string of local radio interviews ahead of the Conservative Party conference, did nothing to quell fears he is preparing to either scrap or delay the rail project’s Birmingham to Manchester leg.
He instead stressed the importance of funding other transport projects such as local bus services in rural areas, fixing potholes and connecting northern towns and cities.
Making sure that our roads, the potholes are maintained well, making sure that our bus services are running well, that’s all important
Kicking off his whirlwind tour of local radio stations on BBC Radio York on Thursday, the Prime Minister was asked whether he is betraying the North by curtailing the high-speed rail line.
Mr Sunak replied: “No. I think what people will see, I mean particularly around where we are – my home is in Northallerton – we’re investing record amounts in improving infrastructure but also delivering levelling up.
“I mean making sure that our town centres and high streets get the investment that they need. That’s really important and making sure that, as I say, transport infrastructure is being improved.”
He said the Government is “investing record sums in transport infrastructure”.
“When I speak to people when I’m at home or anywhere else around, what everyone tells me is that you’ve got to make it easier to get around all our northern towns and cities, whether it’s Hull, York, Leeds, Sheffield, all the way over to Liverpool. Connecting all those cities up is really important and we’re doing that.
“But also investing in the local transport that people use every day, making sure that our potholes are filled, making sure that our bus services are running – particularly important in rural areas like mine.”
Challenged over the “mess” of the rail network in the North, Mr Sunak acknowledged there are “challenges” which he blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic.
He suggested most journeys are made by car, saying: “Making sure that our roads, the potholes are maintained well, making sure that our bus services are running well, that’s all important.”