John Kay clashed with Grant Shapps this morning.
The prime minister will confirm later today in his speech to the Tory party conference that he is axing the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the multi-billion pound project.
It comes just two weeks after he also announced he was watering down a number of net zero policies.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning, defence secretary Shapps said the HS2 cancellation showed Sunak was ready to take difficult decisions in the national interest.
He said: “It’s much harder to change track on something like this when you see the world’s changed than it is just to plough on. It will attract criticism when you do these things. He’s prepared to take those long-term, difficult decisions because he thinks we can get to a brighter future by doing them.
“That’s in contrast to other people in politics, particularly the leader of the opposition, who tends to chop and change on a daily basis.”
But presenter John Kay hit back: “That’s a bit rich, isn’t it? He’s just totally changed his policy on how to get to net zero, he’s now scrapping a multi-billion pound section of high-speed rail which he’s been saying will happen for years.
“He might talk about long-term decision making, but he’s making very instant short-term decision-making however he brands it and whatever it says behind him on the platform.”
Shapps replied: “With respect to you, these decisions are difficult and complex. You are suggesting it may not be a popular decision and that is almost the point – he’s prepared to take these difficult decisions.”
'He might talk about long term decision making but he's making very instant short term decision making'
Former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was asked on #BBCBreakfast about Rishi Sunak's expected announcement to scrap the HS2 rail line to Manchesterhttps://t.co/gDn3a2mmXCpic.twitter.com/voKazfhMpO
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 4, 2023
Speculation about HS2 has completely dominated the Tory conference, which ironically is taking place in Manchester.
The PM is facing a furious backlash over his decision from opposition politicians, business leaders as well as senior members of his own party, including West Midlands mayor Andy Street.
He even held an impromptu press conference urging Sunak to think again and warning him he will be squandering a “once in a generation opportunity to level up” the UK by improving transport links in the north of England.