Here are a few of the announcements made by PM Rishi Sunak on the last day of the Conservative Party Conference. Big news for the construction industry, the North, teen smokers and students
Rishi Sunak announced at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that he would be scrapping the second phase of HS2, the high-speed rail line that was supposed to connect London to Manchester and Leeds. This was a surprise decision, as Sunak had previously said that he was committed to the project, it was reported by reported.
- Government to redirect HS2 savings into unprecedented transport investment across the country, benefiting more people, in more places, more quickly
- The North will receive £19.8 billion to link its major cities including the long-awaited dualling of the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham
- Additional £3.3 billion to resurface roads in the North
The decision was met with criticism from both within and outside of the Conservative Party. David Cameron and George Osborne, both former Prime Ministers, spoke out against the decision, saying that it would damage the UK’s economy and reputation. Even Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who had previously supported HS2, retweeted a tweet he had written in 2020 in which he said that scrapping HS2 would show a lack of ambition for the UK.
The government announced that a total of £36 billion in savings from HS2 will be reinvested in hundreds of transport projects across the country, delivering more buses, reopening railway stations and ensuring major funding for new and improved roads.
HS2 funds diverted
The newly announced Network North will still see HS2 delivered between Birmingham and Euston in central London. “But every penny that would have been spent extending the route will instead be redirected into roads, rail and buses to drive economic growth and provide jobs,” said a government statement by the Department for Transport.
Teen smoking ban
Sunak also announced a number of other policies at the conference, including a pledge to create a “smoke-free generation” by raising the age people can buy tobacco and cigarettes in England every year. He also announced a new education qualification for 16-19-year-olds, which would combine A-levels and T-levels and make it compulsory for students to study maths and English until the age of 18.
It remains to be seen whether Sunak will be able to implement these policies, as he would need to be re-elected to do so. The bookmakers are not giving him fantastic odds on this, but only time will tell.