1st Oct 2023 10:16
(Alliance News) - UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted the UK is not a "laughing stock" as he failed to announce a decision on whether HS2 will ever reach Manchester as he visited the city for the Tory party conference.
The PM on Sunday "completely" rejected the allegation from critics, which include leaders across the North as well as predecessors at the top of the Conservatives.
Theresa May is the latest former premier to urge Sunak not to ditch the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the high-speed rail project that was designed to link the North and London.
A drastic cost-cutting exercise could also see it end at Old Oak Common in the capital's western suburbs rather than reach its centre.
But the prime minister has refused to make clear what his plans are, instead relying on his get-out of not commenting on "speculation".
Andy Street, the Tory mayor of the West Midlands, is among the critics of scaling back the project, while London mayor Sadiq Khan warned it could make the UK a "laughing stock".
But Sunak told the BBC's Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: "I'd completely reject that."
Speaking in Salford as ministers and Tory members congregate in Manchester's centre for their annual conference, Sunak insisted the business leaders he speaks to around the world are "excited about the opportunity that investing in Britain offers".
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