Jeremy Hunt Admits He Flew To Manchester For The Tory Conference

Jeremy Hunt being interviewed at the Tory conference.
Jeremy Hunt being interviewed at the Tory conference.

Jeremy Hunt being interviewed at the Tory conference.

Jeremy Hunt flew to Manchester for the Tory Party conference - as he prepares to axe plans for a high-speed rail line to the city.

The chancellor admitted he had to hastily change his travel plans after the train he was due to be on was cancelled.

Hunt also said he will drive back to London when the conference finishes on Wednesday because of a strike by rail workers.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning, the chancellor once again refused to say whether the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the HS2 project will go ahead amid speculation an announcement could come as early as this week.

Presenter John Kay asked him: “Is it right that you flew from London to Manchester for this conference?”

Hunt replied: “I did. I took a BA flight because I was told that my train had been cancelled.”

Asked what that said about “the state of the railways”, the chancellor said: “The railways need improving. We want to invest in our economic infrastructure.

“I’m not going to tell you about HS2, I’m afraid, because we’ll make an announcement on that at the appropriate time.”

Kay pointed out that Hunt met with the Japanese ambassador in London before flying north.

“Japan is famous for its bullet trains and its high-speed rail network,” the presenter said. “I wonder what they would think if they look at a map of the UK and that you have to fly to Manchester.

“They would think ‘just crack on’, wouldn’t they?”

He then asked Hunt if he would be getting the train back to London.

But the chancellor said: “I’ll probably be driving home because I think there’s another train strike on Wednesday.”

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove was yesterday asked if he felt “humiliated” by the government’s failure to deliver HS2 in full.

He said: “The costs of this project have been significantly greater than originally estimated, and as Conservatives we need to make sure we are getting value for money from every pound that the taxpayer gives us.”