HS2 rail line in the hands of Prime Minister

HS2 rail line in the hands of Prime Minister

On Wednesday 13 September, TheIndependent revealed a top-level talks were taking place between Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt about whether to scrap parts of the high-speed rail project HS2.

The project is a rail line linking some of the biggest cities in the UK, intended to connect London, the Midlands and the north of England, with construction split into three stages.

Downing Street was evasive when asked for comment - but refused to deny discussions were taking place. Our story appeared to be news to HS2's project managers, as well as the Department for Transport.

The next day, the rest of the press packed caught up. The prime minister's spokeswoman insisted that she had been subjected to relentless in-person questioning during a regular briefing of political journalists in Westminster.

However, No 10 would not deny the discussions had taken place. Then, other newspapers began to pick up the story.

pressure started to grow: Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was first out of the gate, blasting the government. It established the tenor of the rest of the reaction.

The next Tory big beast was George Osborne, who is now a head of the Tory Party. He took to the airwaves to warn the prime minister that the prime minister was making a mistake.

He was joined by Boris Johnson and David Cameron, former Tory prime ministers Boris Johnson and David Cameron, and the government's own infrastructure tsar.

Other mayors, including Sadiq Khan, who chaired the project, also joined in, stressing the PM's commitment to keep it on track. Companies groups said it would be a betrayal to discontinue work now, with some signing a joint letter.

Hunt broke his silence on Thursday, less than a week after the original story. The chancellor said the costs of HS2 were'spiralling out of control' - his strongest hint yet that a cut was being considered.

The Independent said this weekend a decision on the line is due before the Tory conference - this coming week.

The prime minister is said to be considering a delay rather than a cut to the project, spooked by the reaction to this newspaper's revelations.