RISHI Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are weighing up whether billions of taxpayer cash is being spent "prudently" on HS2, a Home Office minister confirmed today.
Chris Philp confirmed that no final decisions have been made on whether the Manchester leg of the controversial rail line will be scrapped in a bid to lower costs.
He said: "It's gone up a lot. It's roughly tripled, I think since it was first conceived.
"No decisions have been taken about the remaining stages of HS2 but I do know the Chancellor and the Prime Minister are looking at how the cost can be controlled."
Mr Philp insisted residents of Manchester are "definitely not" being treated as second-class citizens and that the government is committed to levelling up Britain.
"What this review is about is making sure the costs are controlled," he said.
"I think any taxpayer anywhere in the country would want to see that kind of prudence apply."
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The cost of HS2 has soared since it was first given the green light in 2012.
Ministers originally anticipated a £32.7bn price tag.
But with inflation priced in the figure has ballooned to over £100bn.
Potential plans to scale back or delay the project will not be announced until November after a major backlash.
The PM hit out yesterday at days of “speculation” over the bungled high-speed line.
And No10 insisted any changes will now come as part of the Autumn Statement in November rather than on the eve of Tory conference in Manchester.
But they admitted for the first time that there is a live “debate” over the future of the project that could see the Birmingham to Manchester leg lopped off or delayed for years more.
Dozens of ex-PMs, Chancellors and business chiefs have demanded the project go all the way from Euston to Manchester.
But the boss of economic think tank Paul Johnson, who previously worked for the Government spending watchdog, said: "This whole thing makes me want to weep… it makes me despair.
He told Times Radio: “The original sin was agreeing to do it in the first place."
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Ex-Cabinet Minister Esther McVey told the BBC HS2 is "sucking the life out of our local transport" in the North.
She said: "Thank goodness that the PM is looking at HS2's spiralling costs, because what might have been feasible at £37 billion really is not at £120 billion going northwards.
"Things have significantly changed since lockdown. People will now sooner jump on a Zoom to save time and money.
"So it's the right thing to do and yes, stop it as soon as possible."
Former Tory chief Lord Hague said HS2 should've been canned years ago "when it was clear that the whole thing was out of control".
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He told Times Radio: "You've got this classic problem if you're halfway through something and it's been terribly badly managed, really a national disgrace as a project, do you say, well okay that's it, I'm stopping this, or do you say, well actually now we're halfway through, we have to at least complete and make sense of the parts that we can still do.
"But that's just a genuine dilemma."
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