Raab denies levelling up promise is being broken as HS2 Leeds leg scrapped

18 November 2021, 09:07 | Updated: 18 November 2021, 11:39

By Sophie Barnett

The Deputy Prime Minister has denied that promises to "level up" the country are being broken by the Government, despite the scrapping of the eastern leg of HS2.

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A new rail line connecting Leeds with Manchester has been ditched this morning, along with the eastern leg of HS2 - despite government promises to deliver both.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC ahead of the announcement, Dominic Raab said the £96bn of investment will help "link up" towns and cities, improving interconnectivity in the north and the midlands.

However, Nick voiced concerns of those up in the north, who fear not enough money is going elsewhere.

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"Some people are saying that most of the tens of billions of pounds are being spent on HS2, not enough is going elsewhere and it's not 'levelling up' in the north?" Nick asked the secretary of state.

"I don't agree with that," said the Deputy Prime Minister.

"It's £96bn of investment, it will link not just the rest of the country with the midlands and the north, but it will also critically be focussed on the interconnectivity between the towns, the cities of those regions which is what we know many of the small businesses and many of their passengers, the commuters, want to see."

The Government has confirmed that £96bn will go towards rail upgrades, though local leaders in the north of England say that's not good enough.

The Department for Transport says the new plan will deliver faster journey times up to 10 years sooner.

It comes as businesses reacted angrily to reports the East Midlands-Leeds HS2 high-speed line would not be built.

HS2 was originally meant to connect London with the city centres of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, however, recent reports suggest the Leeds leg is due to be ditched.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says its Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) will improve journey times and capacity "from London and across the Pennines" and "strengthen connections between major cities in the North and Midlands".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will unveil the plans this morning.