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Johnson and Cameron lambast Sunak’s decision to scrap HS2 northern leg

Two former prime ministers have criticised the decision to axe the northern leg of HS2.

David Cameron and Boris Johnson accused Rishi Sunak of throwing away a “once-in-a-generation opportunity”.

After weeks of speculation, the Prime Minister told the Tory conference on Wednesday that the section of the high-speed railway planned from Birmingham to Manchester will not go ahead.

The £36 billion saved will be channelled towards pothole repairs and constructing a new northern transport network.

This includes £2.5 billion for the construction of a new mass transit system covering West Yorkshire, as well as just under £2 billion for a new rail hub for the West Midlands.

A further £8 billion will go towards a nationwide pothole fund that will be spent on road resurfacing schemes outside of London.

In the speech, Mr Sunak said HS2 was the “ultimate example of the old consensus” and that courage was needed to change direction.

He said: “So I am ending this long-running saga. I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project.

“And in its place we will reinvest every single penny, £36 billion, in hundreds of new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, and across the country.”

However, the decision has been criticised by politicians and industry figures.

Mr Cameron, who was prime minister when HS2 was given the green light, said on Wednesday: “Today’s decision on HS2 is the wrong one.

“It will help to fuel the views of those who argue that we can no longer think or act for the long term as a country; that we are heading in the wrong direction.”

He added: “I regret this decision and in years to come I suspect many will look back at today’s announcement and wonder how this once-in-a-generation opportunity was lost.”

Mr Johnson shared Mr Cameron’s post on Twitter, writing “I agree”.

Labour labelled Mr Sunak’s decision to scrap HS2 a “Tory fiasco”, claiming those in the North and Midlands would be left to pay the price.

Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said: “What started as a modern infrastructure plan left by the last Labour government has, after 13 years of incompetence, waste, and broken promises, become a colossal symbol of Conservative failure.”

However, Labour has not confirmed if it would restart work on the northern part of the line if it comes into power.

Earlier in the day Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, suggested that he might quit his role if Mr Sunak went ahead with scrapping the line.

However, Mr Sunak namechecked the Mayor in his speech and said: ‌“I say this to Andy Street, a man I have huge admiration and respect for – I know we have different views on HS2.

“But I also know we can work together to ensure a faster, stronger spine, quicker trains and more capacity between Birmingham and Manchester.”

In a statement posted online following the speech, Mr Street confirmed he would stay on in the role and instead work on a compromise solution with the prime minister.

The Prime Minister acknowledged in his speech that the HS2 announcement “will be attacked” and that he would be accused of showing a “lack of ambition”.

However, he said there was no ambition in “pouring more and more money into the wrong project” – saying the economic case for the project had been weakened by Covid, with businesses holding more remote meetings.

Mr Sunak said: “I say to those who backed the project in the first place, the facts have changed.

“The right thing to do when the facts change is to have the courage to change direction.”

The Prime Minister confirmed that the line would terminate at Euston, in central London, but said responsibility for the station would be removed from HS2 Ltd as punishment for its management of the scheme.

He said: “The management of HS2 will no longer be responsible for the Euston site.

“There must be some accountability for the mistakes made, for the mismanagement of this project.

“We will instead create a new Euston Development Zone, building thousands of new homes for the next generation of homeowners, new business opportunities and a station that delivers the capacity we need.

“In doing so, for the first time in the lifecycle of this project, we will have cut costs.”

He said the £6.5 billion of savings “will be taken from the Euston site and given to the rest of the country”.

A document released by the Department for Transport stated: “We are going to strip back the project and deliver a station that works, and that can be open and running trains as soon as possible, and which has the leadership in place to deliver maximum value to the taxpayer.

“We will not provide a tunnel between Euston and Euston Square Underground station or design features we do not need.

“Instead, we will deliver a six-platform station which can accommodate the trains we will run to Birmingham and onwards and which best supports regeneration of the local area.

“That is how we properly unlock the opportunities the new station offers, while radically reducing its costs.”

Documents published after the speech also estimated that scrapping the line from Birmingham to Crewe would save more than £29 billion.

Despite the Prime Minister claiming for nearly two weeks that the Government was yet to take a decision on the future of HS2, a video explaining the move that was released on Wednesday appeared to have been filmed before the Tory party conference. Mr Sunak was shown speaking from Downing Street.

His speech was also followed by the publication of a 40-page document outlining plans for how the money would be spent.

Included in this is a commitment of more than £8.3 billion towards fixing potholes on local roads across the country.

The fund is set to be divided across three pots, with £3.3 billion given to the North, £2.2 billion to the Midlands, and £2.8 billion to the South East, South West, and East of England.

It comes after the Asphalt Industry Alliance estimated in March that it would cost £14 billion to fix all of the country’s potholes.

The money will also go to a number of other road schemes, including the Shipley bypass and the Blyth relief road, as well as improvements to the M6 and dualling parts of the A1.

Rail giveaways include £2 billion for a new station in Bradford and £3 billion for rail upgrades from Sheffield and Hull.

An additional £12 billion has also been earmarked for improvements to the rail lines between Liverpool and Manchester, including some new high-speed lines.

A Number 10 source said that while peak spending was expected in the late 2020s and early 2030s, quite a lot of money would be released by the middle point of this decade to be spent on projects.

The source added: “Meaningful sums will be spent in the next year or two, with some spending starting immediately.”

The Government will now be left with almost 1,000 properties acquired to make way for HS2’s northern leg.

People living in homes along the originally proposed route – from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds in a ‘Y’ shape – have been able to either voluntarily sell their properties or have them forcibly purchased.

But the future of the properties and contracts worth up to £1.1 billion have now been left in limbo.


07:20 PM BST

Thanks for following out live coverage

That’s all for today. Thank you for following our live coverage of the Tory conference. Check the website for further updates.


06:59 PM BST

Andy Street speaks to the media about HS2

Andy Street, the Tory Mayor of the West Midlands, said he was “very disappointed” by the Government’s HS2 decision but said he would not resign.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street speaks to the media about HS2 during a press conference at the Millennium Point conference venue, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak axed plans for HS2
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street speaks to the media about HS2 during a press conference at the Millennium Point conference venue, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak axed plans for HS2 - PA

06:52 PM BST

Sunak reported to police over Sturgeon jibe, it is claimed

Rishi Sunak has been reported to the police after he joked that Nicola Sturgeon faces prison in his keynote speech at the Tory conference.

He jested about the police investigation into the SNP’s finances, prompting laughs from conference delegates. “Nicola Sturgeon wanted to go down in the history books as the woman who broke up our country but it now looks like she may go down for very different reasons,” Mr Sunak said. “We are a remarkable combination of four nations with a proud history, and that history should give us enormous confidence in our future.”

Now Chris McEleny, the general secretary of the rival pro-independence Alba Party, has reported Mr Sunak to the police for contempt of court allegations, as the Prime Minister’s comments come amid a live police investigation, it is claimed.

He said: “The Prime Minister is commenting on, and making an assumption about a live Police Scotland investigation.

“In Scotland contempt applies from arrest, not from charging. Operation Branchform is investigating serious matters of the utmost importance the Scotland and trust in politics.

“It is too important a matter to allow interference from the Prime Minister in this act of contempt when many people await the facts of Police Scotland’s investigation.”


06:45 PM BST

Sunak's conference accessories

Rishi Sunak’s clothing is often a source of interest. The Prime Minister has a penchant for tailored suits, especially those with seemingly cropped trousers.

He also once wore a pair of Prada loafers to visit a building site, and the £490 price tag sparked furore.

But the accessories he sported to the Tory party conference today were more modest.

The orange bracelet pictured on his right wrist is known as a kautuka or kalava, a traditional Hindu bracelet.

Above it, he wore a charm bracelet which spelled out “Love dada”. The bespoke piece was made for him by his two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka.

Bracelets are seen on the wrist of Rishi Sunak
Bracelets are seen on the wrist of Rishi Sunak - AFP

06:16 PM BST

Tory conference pictured

Grant Shapps, Suella Braverman and James Cleverly at the keynote speech by Rishi Sunak today
Grant Shapps, Suella Braverman and James Cleverly at the keynote speech by Rishi Sunak today - Bloomberg
Bookmakers odds on the next general election displayed outside venue of the Tory conference
Bookmakers odds on the next general election displayed outside venue of the Tory conference - Getty Images Europe
MP Johnny Mercer speaks on stage at Tory party conference
MP Johnny Mercer speaks on stage at Tory party conference - REUTERS

05:59 PM BST

Recap

Rishi Sunak confirmed the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 is being scrapped. He said HS2 was the “ultimate example of the old consensus” and the economic case for the project has “massively been weakened”.

Sunak announced plans to combine A-levels and T-levels into a single qualification which will be called the Advanced British Standard.

The Prime Minister also unveiled a proposal to ban the sale of cigarettes to young people. He said that “great progress” had been made already on tackling smoking but in order to do the “right thing for our kids we must try and stop teenagers taking up cigarettes in the first place”.


05:32 PM BST

Osborne stands by Cameron

George Osborne has publicly supported David Cameron’s criticism of the decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2.

Responding to Mr Cameron’s statement branding Rishi Sunak’s decision “the wrong one”, Mr Osborne said: “I agree”.


05:16 PM BST

Sunak makes prison jibe at Sturgeon

Rishi Sunak joked that Nicola Sturgeon faces prison in his keynote speech at the Tory conference.

He delivered a jibe about the police investigation into the SNP’s finances, prompting widespread hilarity from conference delegates.

Nicola Sturgeon wanted to go down in the history books as the woman who broke up our country but it now looks like she may go down for very different reasons,” Mr Sunak said.

“We are a remarkable combination of four nations with a proud history, and that history should give us enormous confidence in our future.”

Simon Johnson, our Scottish Political Editor, has the full story.


04:50 PM BST

Land on axed HS2 routes will not be protected for future expansion

Land earmarked for the HS2 routes now scrapped will not be protected for potential future expansion of the high-speed railway, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed.

Under a process known as safeguarding, land on those routes was protected to stop conflicting developments taking place. Some residents also voluntarily sold their homes to HS2 Ltd.

The DfT said safeguarding will be lifted in Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire “at the earliest opportunity” to “remove the uncertainty that has surrounded thousands of people along the route”.

It added: “The land acquisition programme on Phase 2a (between the West Midlands and Crewe) will be halted immediately and HS2 will not be accepting new applications under the existing schemes from property owners in the areas where safeguarding is going to be lifted.

“Any property that is no longer required for HS2 will be sold and a programme is being developed to do this.”

William Barter, a railway consultant, said this means planned phases beyond the West Midlands “will never happen”, which he described as “madness”.

He said the scrapped Phase 2a would have provided “a lot of value for relatively little cost as it’s just a straightforward line”.


04:33 PM BST

David Cameron: 'Today's decision on HS2 is the wrong one'


04:08 PM BST

MPs just can’t say no to karaoke – after these performances, maybe they should

Badly delivering words somebody else wrote, to an audience of peers who are outwardly enthusiastic but inwardly expecting you’ll be completely shambolic, and all in the knowledge that whatever happens, the party will likely end up divided over it, writes Guy Kelly.

When you stop to consider the similarities, it’s easy to see why there should be such a strong link between the art of politics and the art of karaoke. Members of Parliament love it, they simply love it, by many estimations (mine) more than any other industry group in the country.

Perhaps they think of it as training. After all, to volunteer to sing during karaoke is to open yourself up to scrutiny and embarrassment, breezing past gaffes and hoping the intensity of your charisma will simply carry the moment. Who knows how often it happens in the private rooms along Whitehall (as a senior civil servant, remember, Sue Gray kept a karaoke machine in her office), but never do the disciplines overlap quite like during party conference season.

Read the full story here.


04:05 PM BST

Camilla Tominey: Change isn't enough - Rishi needs to get radical

Can a prime minister really be a change candidate after a year in office and 13 years in power?

That was Rishi Sunak’s pitch on Wednesday as he earnestly delivered a conference speech rather unconvincingly headlined: “It’s time for a change - and we are it.”

Intent on out-changing the actual change candidate, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, this was Sunak the Brave, “Delivering Long Term Decisions for a Brighter Future” .

And how was he going to do it? By scrapping HS2 to Manchester, banning smoking and replacing A-Levels with an “Advanced British Standard” that will ensure “no child is left behind”.

But as he doubled down on warm-up act Penny Mordaunt’s “we are not for returning” Thatcherite reboot, the 43-year-old’s declaration that our “broken” political system “doesn’t work as it should” would perhaps have sounded more authentic had he taken some responsibility for it.

Read the full story here.


03:46 PM BST

Watch: 'Sunak's not a playground bully, he's the headboy'


03:40 PM BST

Tory party enters the ‘drunken tramp’ phase of its existence

The Conservative Party gets a lot of flak these days for its failure to deliver. However, this conference did manage to achieve something – uniting The Guardian and The Telegraph, writes Madeline Grant.

These are strange days indeed. Expect George Monbiot to write on the virtues of the Countryside Alliance and Charles Moore to wax lyrical about tofu. Admittedly, this long-awaited union was achieved by them barring both sketch writers from the PM’s speech.

Computer said no but, thanks to a spare wristband donated by the saintly Kate McCann of Times Radio, I made it inside – where Penny Mordaunt was warming up the Tory faithful with one of her trademark rousing speeches. Imagine Henry V, in the style of the CCHQ press department.

And oh how the crowd loved their Tory St Crispin’s Day. “We love you Penny!” screamed a youthful admirer. Twenty-two-year-old Tory supporters may be few, but in the hall at least they were a happy few.

Read the full story here


03:36 PM BST

Almost £1bn wiped off tobacco firms after Sunak's speech

The UK’s biggest tobacco firms saw almost £1 billion wiped off their shares as they warned that the Government plan to raise the legal age for buying tobacco “threatens significant unintended consequences”.

Dunhill and Lucky Strike owner British American Tobacco (BAT) saw its shares slide from roughly flat to one per cent lower immediately after the announcement, knocking around £600 million of its market value.

Meanwhile, fellow London-listed firm Imperial Brands saw shares fall 2.4 per cent lower after the update. It saw its market value decline by around £340 million.

The company, which owns Gauloises and Rizla, said it would engage with the Government but also cautioned over the policy move.

A spokesman for Imperial Brands said: “We understand the Government’s desire for new tobacco control measures, because of the health risks associated with smoking.

“But, like any prohibition, the proposal to ban the legal sale of cigarettes over time threatens significant unintended consequences.

“On vaping, we will continue to engage with the Government to create effective policies which prevent youth access and build trust in the category as a potentially less risky alternative for existing adult smokers.”


03:34 PM BST

Andy Burnham: 'We haven’t got a plan that works'

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham (right) warned that Rishi Sunak's plan does not work for the North - Peter Byrne/PA

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said that the Prime Minister’s transport plan does not solve the problem of bottlenecks and lack of capacity on the railway network in the North.

He said: “There’s a world of difference between a transport plan patched together in hotel rooms at a party conference with no input with Northern leaders or mayors, and a transport plan that’s been worked on for years by Northern leaders and mayors, with Transport for the North, which is a coherent plan representing the voice of the north and what people here want.

“What’s been announced at conference today is not that coherent plan.”


02:48 PM BST

Andy Street will not resign over HS2 decision

Andy Street said he will not be resigning as the Tory Mayor of the West Midlands over the Government’s HS2 decision.

He told the BBC: “I will carry on as mayor, yes. And I don’t actually see a difficulty between those two things because I do think it is right that, many people have said that mayors can sometimes do this more than MPs actually, that you should stand up particularly when something is really important to your region and we have not lost it all.

”We have actually got a compromise. This line will still run from Euston to the West Coast Mainline.”


02:44 PM BST

Andy Street 'very disappointed' by HS2 decision

Andy Street, the Tory Mayor of the West Midlands, said he was “very disappointed” by the HS2 decision but argued overall a “good compromise” had been arrived at.

He told the BBC: “So obviously I am very disappointed that he announced that today. As you know I have fought for it to be maintained... so of course disappointed.

“But remember the line is going to run from Euston to Handsacre where it will join the West Coast Mainline so compared to what could have happened this is a good compromise position.”


02:33 PM BST

Louise Haigh accuses Tories of 'incompetence' over HS2

Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, accused the Tories of “incompetence, waste and broken promises” over the HS2 decision.

Ms Haigh said: “This staggering Tory fiasco has seen costs soar, and the North and Midlands are left to pay the price. Only after 13 years of dismal failure could the Conservatives make the centrepiece of their conference a re-announcement of promises the Conservatives have made before.

“Is there anything more emblematic of 13 years of dismal failure by this broken government than their flagship levelling-up project that fails to even reach the north?

“What started as a modern infrastructure plan left by the last Labour government has, after 13 years of incompetence, waste, and broken promises become a colossal symbol of Conservative failure.”


02:21 PM BST

Truss will vote against PM's smoking ban

Liz Truss will vote against Rishi Sunak’s proposals to introduce an effective ban on smoking for young people, The Telegraph understands.

Mr Sunak said in his conference speech that the proposed ban will be put to a free vote in the House of Commons.


02:18 PM BST

Mixed response to Sunak's speech from think tanks

Rishi Sunak’s closing Conservative Party conference speech has drawn a mixed reaction from think tanks.

Mark Littlewood, the director general of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), said the cancellation of the rest of HS2 “is a victory of common sense” but criticised Mr Sunak’s focus on “long-term central planning like cigarette prohibition” instead of tax cuts.

Zoe Billingham, director of the northern wing of the IPPR think tank, accused the Prime Minister of playing “fast and loose with HS2”, adding: “Scrapping the Manchester leg is a betrayal of the North.”

Duncan Simpson, the Adam Smith Institute’s executive director, said Mr Sunak’s remarks showed he was “devoid of meaningful ideas of how to govern”.

“The Prime Minister would do better to concentrate on the supply-side and regulation reforms this country desperately needs,” Mr Simpson said.


02:10 PM BST

Cabinet signed off Sunak's HS2 plan this morning

Downing Street confirmed the Cabinet met at 9.45am this morning to discuss Rishi Sunak’s new plans for HS2, after days of speculation about when and how a decision would be taken.

The meeting lasted for 45 minutes. No10 said that Cabinet ministers were “all very supportive of the Prime Minister’s plan”.


02:08 PM BST

Trade unions respond to Sunak's speech

Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “That Rishi Sunak has chosen to announce, in Manchester, that his Government is killing off the dream of HS2, turning his back on the north, and is no longer interested in levelling up, is, almost, beyond parody.

“He is, yet again, selling Britain short. This is bad news not just for the railway, and the economy, but for Britain. The sooner he takes his helicopter home – the last chopper out of Saigon – the better for Britain.”

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “The Tories have broken Britain. Today the Prime Minister confirmed what everybody already knew – he has neither a plan or vision for fixing it.

“Whether it’s failing to deliver HS2, presiding over the longest pay squeeze in modern history or record hospital waiting lists – the Conservatives’ record in government has been dire.”

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The country is broken after 13 years of poor government. The Prime Minister’s focus should be on fixing the mess created by his ministers and those of the four earlier woeful Conservative administrations. Under his party the UK has become an international embarrassment.”


01:59 PM BST

Tory chairman praises Sunak's three big announcements


01:54 PM BST

Labour label PM's speech 'desperate attempt to reset his weak leadership

Labour labelled Rishi Sunak’s conference speech a “desperate attempt to reset his weak leadership”.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator, said the Tories “cannot be the change from their own failures”:

“After 13 years and five Tory prime ministers, Rishi Sunak’s latest desperate attempt to reset his weak leadership and divided government won’t fool the British public who are looking at Tory failures all around them.

“Sunak’s weakness is having a decaying effect on his party and the country. Members of his Cabinet have spent this week jockeying for position to replace him, while Liz Truss, Nigel Farage and conspiracy theories lifted from the darkest corners of the internet have dominated his conference. How can a man who can’t even run his own party seriously claim he’s capable of running the country?

“The Tories have let Britain down for too long. They cannot be the change from their own failures. The damage they would do with five more years would be intolerable for working people.

“To turn the page on this chaos, the country needs the election of a Labour government committed to ending the Tory decline and rebuilding Britain.

“The Conservatives on the other hand need to sort out their identity crisis, step back from the brink, and have their coming leadership election from the comfort of opposition.”


01:50 PM BST

HS2 cash will be spent on new projects, not old ones, says Mark Harper

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, insisted projects receiving funding as a result of HS2 being scaled back were not previously funded.

Speaking to reporters at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester after the Prime Minister’s speech, Mr Harper was asked by Sky’s Beth Rigby if many of the projects Rishi Sunak said would receive funding had already been promised cash in the past.

Mr Harper said: “That’s not right. The £36 billion that we’re saving from not doing the northern part of HS2… these projects were projects that were not happening and not funded.

“These are projects are now going to happen and they are going to be delivered. And I think they’re closer to what people want to see.”


01:47 PM BST

Ex-minister questions if new transport schemes will be delivered

Former Tory Treasury minister Lord Jim O’Neill has questioned whether Rishi Sunak will deliver the transport schemes he offered after cutting HS2 north of Birmingham.

The well-known economist who now sits as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “If we could really believe all of that was going to happen in some foreseeable future, then I would be perfectly relaxed about what was said, particularly because I was never personally the greatest fan of HS2 in the first place.

“But it’s very easy for him to stand there and say all these things, and then just presume everybody forgets about it in another few months.”

He added: “He is the Prime Minister of a party that the past 13 years hasn’t delivered on any other commitments, including by the way electrification, which is what he really focused on. That’s been said by them many times before and they haven’t.”


01:44 PM BST

Angela Rayner demands general election after Sunak calls for 'change'

Angela Rayner issued a concise response to Rishi Sunak saying at the end of his speech that it is “time for a change” (see the post below at 13.07).

The deputy Labour leader tweeted: “You’re not it. We need a General Election.”


01:40 PM BST

Analysis: Sunak's speech marks dramatic shift in PM's presentation

Rishi Sunak’s speech told us little we didn’t already know in terms of policy, but it marked a dramatic shift in how the PM is now presenting himself to voters, writes Nick Gutteridge. 

The Prime Minister cast himself as the candidate for change and handed down a withering verdict on the record of five of his Tory predecessors in No10.

By doing so he has effectively aligned himself with Sir Keir Starmer and made the election a straight shootout on who voters trust more to fix the political system.

The biggest surprise was using his wife, Akshata Murty, as the warm up. Her warm tribute to the PM as her “best friend” was an effort to soften his technocrat image.

But putting her in the political spotlight also carries risks for Downing Street, and making her a public figure will inevitably open up her private affairs to greater scrutiny.

Policy wonks hoping for a rabbit out of the hat faced disappointment with the main announcements on HS2, smoking and A-Levels already heavily trailed.


01:31 PM BST

Labour Mayor of West Yorkshire blasts HS2 'betrayal'

Tracy Brabin, the Labour Mayor of West Yorkshire, described the HS2 decision as “yet another betrayal” of the north of England.

She said in a statement: “This is yet another betrayal of the North which will punish passengers and businesses alike. As we have found with this government, the devil is in the detail and we can’t take them at their word.

“Northern transport investment requires long-term planning and conversations with local leaders who know their areas best.”


01:30 PM BST

Sunak explains decision to scrap HS2 northern leg


01:28 PM BST

Jeremy Hunt hails Rishi Sunak's speech: 'That was something else'


01:27 PM BST

PM's speech clocks in at one hour and four minutes

Rishi Sunak’s Tory conference speech lasted one hour and four minutes - nearly half an hour longer than the speech given by his predecessor Liz Truss at the 2022 conference.

Mr Sunak’s speech was the joint longest delivered by a Conservative prime minister at a party conference this century, equalling the one hour and four minutes managed by Theresa May in 2017.


01:23 PM BST

SNP: Tory promises cannot be taken seriously

The SNP said Rishi Sunak’s speech “underlines that no promise made by the Tories can ever be taken seriously”.

The party’s Westminster depute leader, Mhairi Black, said: “During their time in power, the Tories’ have failed time and time again to deliver on Scotland’s priorities - while simultaneously crashing the economy, fuelling a cost of living crisis, and plunging tens of thousands of families across the UK into poverty.

“That is why, at the next election, voters across Scotland can send a clear message to Westminster that we will not be ignored.

“Only the SNP will stand up for Scotland, tackle the cost of living crisis, and guarantee Scotland’s voice is heard each and every day.”


01:21 PM BST

Lib Dems take aim at 'lame duck' Prime Minister

Sir Ed Davey described Rishi Sunak’s Tory conference speech as “empty rhetoric from a lame duck Prime Minister”.

The Liberal Democrats leader said: “This chaotic conference shows Rishi Sunak has lost control of his party and lost the trust of the country.

“Every bungled announcement confirms that this shambles of a Conservative Party is not fit to govern.

“Sunak had no answers on how to fix our crumbling health services or help people seeing their bills go through the roof. Instead we got just more empty rhetoric from a lame duck Prime Minister who is running scared of a general election.

“It’s time to give the British people the chance to kick Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party out of government.”


01:07 PM BST

Sunak concludes: 'Be in no doubt, it is time for a change and we are it'

The next general election will be “bigger than party politics”, Rishi Sunak said.

He said voters will have a choice between a Conservative Party that is prepared to be “radical” to deliver a better future and prepared to take on vested interests, and a Labour Party which wanted to “stand still”.

Concluding his speech, Mr Sunak: “Be in no doubt, it is time for a change and we are it.”

The Tory leader received a lengthy and loud standing ovation as he exited the main hall in Manchester alongside his wife Akshata Murty.


01:02 PM BST

A-levels and T-levels to be combined into single qualification

Rishi Sunak has announced plans to combine A-levels and T-levels into a single qualification.

The Prime Minister said the new qualification will be called the Advanced British Standard.

The reforms will mean that students will also study more subjects than they do now. The PM said typically it will be five subjects.

Mr Sunak said his plans will require more teachers and in order to attract and retain more staff, teachers in key subjects will receive special bonuses of up to £30,000 tax free over their first five years.


12:54 PM BST

Tory leader: 'Never let anyone tell you that this is a racist country'

Rishi Sunak told Tory activists in Manchester: “I owe our country everything and it is my duty to do what I can to help this country take the right long term decisions for the years ahead.”

The Prime Minister said the UK was the “most successful multi-ethnic democracy on Earth”.

He added: “Never let anyone tell you that this is a racist country. It is not. My story is a British story.”


12:49 PM BST

Watch: Rishi Sunak confirms Birmingham to Manchester HS2 leg to be scrapped


12:49 PM BST

Rishi Sunak pledges benefits crackdown to ensure 'those who can work, do work'

Turning to the Government’s back to work drive, Rishi Sunak said he would change benefit rules to ensure that “those who can work, do work”.

He told Tory activists in Manchester: “It is a tragedy for those two million people being written off. I refuse to accept this and that is why we are going to change the rules so that those who can work, do work.”


12:43 PM BST

PM vows to do 'whatever it takes' to stop the boats

Turning to illegal immigration, Rishi Sunak said: “It is non-negotiable that you the British people decide who comes here and not criminal gangs.”

The Prime Minister said he knew stopping the boats would “not be easy” but he said it was “not impossible and we are proving it”.

He said that while illegal entry into Europe was up, small boat Channel crossings were actually “down 20 per cent this year”.

“I will do whatever is necessary to stop the boats,” he said.


12:39 PM BST

PM unveils plan for effective ban on sale of cigarettes to young people

Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans to ban the sale of cigarettes to young people.

The Prime Minister said that “great progress” had been made already on tackling smoking but in order to do the “right thing for our kids we must try and stop teenagers taking up cigarettes in the first place”.

Mr Sunak said his plan was to “raise the smoking age by one year every year”.

“That means a 14 year old today will never legally be sold a cigarette,” he said.

The plan will be put to a free vote in the House of Commons, he said.


12:35 PM BST

Sunak vows to take on 'vested interests' and deliver NHS reform

Turning to the NHS, Rishi Sunak highlighted the Government’s long term workforce plan which was published earlier this year.

The Prime Minister said he was sure “vested interests will oppose some of these measures” but the Tories must ensure that it is delivered to make the NHS one of the “best healthcare systems anywhere in the world”.


12:32 PM BST

Analysis: PM's Brexit comments ignite Tory crowd in Manchester

It is telling that one of the biggest cheers so far in the hall has been Brexit, writes Ben Riley-Smith. 

Rishi Sunak said the UK has grown quicker since leaving the single market than France and Germany “not despite Brexit, because of Brexit”.

That got a flurry of shouts of support and applause from the rows of Tory supporters here in the auditorium.


12:30 PM BST

Watch: Akshata Murty's speech to Tory conference in full


12:29 PM BST

Nothing ambitious about 'pouring more money into wrong project', says PM

The Prime Minister said the HS2 line will terminate at Euston in central London as he urged Andy Street, the Tory Mayor of the West Midlands, to work with him to strengthen the spine of the nation.

The Prime Minister said his HS2 announcement “will be attacked” and he will be accused of showing a “lack of ambition”.

But he said there is no ambition in “pouring more and more money into the wrong project”.

Rishi Sunak addresses Tory conference in Manchester today
Rishi Sunak addresses Tory conference in Manchester today - Toby Melville/Reuters

12:24 PM BST

Rishi Sunak confirms northern leg of HS2 is being scrapped

Rishi Sunak confirmed the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 is being scrapped.

He said HS2 was the “ultimate example of the old consensus” and the economic case for the project has “massively been weakened”.

He said: “I say to those who backed the project in the first place, the facts have changed and the right thing to do when the facts change is to have the courage to change direction. And so I am ending this long running saga. I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project and in its place we will reinvest every single penny, £36billion in hundreds of new transport projects in the north and the Midlands, across the country.”


12:21 PM BST

Sunak blasts Starmer over Brexit

Turning to Brexit and the Labour Party, Rishi Sunak reeled off a series of comments made by Sir Keir Starmer about the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Prime Minister said: “The irony isn’t lost on me. While we are busy thinking about the future of the United Kingdom, Keir Starmer is just banging on about Europe.”

Mr Sunak said “you just cannot know what you are going to get with him” in reference to Sir Keir

He said the “worst thing about Sir Keir is he just says whatever he thinks will benefit him the most”.


12:16 PM BST

Tory leader promises to 'tell it like it is'

Rishi Sunak told Tory activists: “I will tell it as it is, I will lead in a different way because that is the only way to create the sort of change in our politics and our country that we all desperately want to see.”

The Prime Minister said you “can’t borrow your way out of inflation” as he recommitted to his pledge to halve inflation this year.

He said inflation is the “biggest destroyer of all” and while he wanted to deliver tax cuts eventually, the focus currently needed to stay on curbing rising prices.


12:13 PM BST

Analysis: Silence in conference hall as Sunak takes a swipe at past Tory PMs

Silence in the conference hall as Rishi Sunak effectively takes a swipe at the four Tory primes ministers who have gone before him, writes Ben Riley-Smith.

The Conservative leader hammers the last 30 years of status quo. That means not just New Labour but David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.


12:11 PM BST

Rishi Sunak: 'Politics doesn't work as it should'

Rishi Sunak said that voters across the UK have an “undeniable sense that politics just doesn’t work as it should”.

He said that there was a general level of “exhaustion” with politics.

“And you know what, people are right, politics doesn’t work as it should,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that the political system over the last 30 years have incentivised the easy decisions rather than the right ones.

“It doesn’t have to be this way, I won’t be this way,” he said.

Rishi Sunak addresses Tory activists in Manchester today
Rishi Sunak addresses Tory activists in Manchester today - Justin Tallis/AFP

12:08 PM BST

Sunak says his Government has already 'done good things'.

Rishi Sunak said that since he became Prime Minister in October last year the Government has “done good things in that time, we have made progress on our five priorities”.

“But today I want to share my reflections on what I have seen and learnt doing this job,” he said.

Mr Sunak said he had seen the “quality” of the UK’s armed forces which have been backed with “record investment”. He also said he was “proud” of the UK’s leading support for Ukraine.

Rishi Sunak takes to the stage at Tory conference in Manchester today
Rishi Sunak takes to the stage at Tory conference in Manchester today

12:04 PM BST

Marrying Akshata Murty 'the best long term decision for a brighter future', says Sunak

Rishi Sunak is now on stage.

He started with a joke.

The Prime Minister said that marrying Akshata Murty was the “best long term decision for a brighter future” that he could have ever made as he referred to the Tories’ 2023 conference slogan.


12:02 PM BST

Akshata Murty speaks of her 'pride' in Rishi Sunak

Concluding her speech, Akshata Murty said: “Rishi, you know this, you know that doing the right thing for the long term even when it is hard is the right thing to do. I hope you also know how proud you make our girls and me every single day.”

She thanked Tory conference for letting her “gatecrash” as she introduced Mr Sunak to the stage.


12:00 PM BST

Sunak 'working hard to do the right thing for the country'

Akshata Murty said that Rishi Sunak has an “incredible zest for life”.

She said that “Rishi cares deeply about this party and the values that underpin it”.

Ms Murty said Mr Sunak was “working hard to do the right thing for the country, not just for now but for the long term”.

“That is why he has told some hard truths already,” she said.


11:55 AM BST

Akshata Murty delivers surprise address to Tory conference

A conference surprise as Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, takes to the stage ahead of the Prime Minister’s address in Manchester.

Ms Murty received a very loud ovation and sustained applause.

She said that she was a “bit of a surprise addition” to the agenda and also a “surprise for my husband too who has no idea what I am going to say”.

Describing Mr Sunak as her “best friend”, Ms Murty said: “We are one team and I could not imagine being anywhere else than here today to show my support to him and to the party.”

Akshata Murty addresses Tory conference
Akshata Murty addresses Tory conference

11:52 AM BST

Mercer urges Tories to 'get to it'

Johnny Mercer told Tory activists: “We must hang together in the months ahead... Now is the time for focus, a focus on our nation, on the mission above ourselves.

“If we do that I am convinced we can get there. Let’s get to it.”

Rishi Sunak is up next.


11:45 AM BST

Mercer jokes after being asked to follow Mordaunt speech

Johnny Mercer, the minister for veterans’ affairs, has the tough task of following Penny Mordaunt’s barnstorming main hall speech.

Mr Mercer appears to be aware of the challenge.

He started his speech by joking to Tory activists: “If it is any consolation, I was quite surprised they gave me this slot as well.”


11:41 AM BST

Tory activists give Penny Mordaunt enthusiastic welcome

Penny Mordaunt has the conference audience chuckling along in the main hall, writes Ben Riley-Smith.

There were chants of “Penny! Penny!” from a gaggle of young male Tory activists when she took to the stage.

She has stepped forward on the stage, ahead of the podium, and seems to have the crowd with her as she takes it to Sir Keir Starmer.

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, addresses Tory conference this morning
Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, addresses Tory conference this morning - Carl Court /Getty Images Europe

11:40 AM BST

Labour want to 'erase everything we have achieved', claims Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt claimed the Labour Party wanted to “erase everything we have achieved”.

The Commons Leader said: “If you remember nothing else from what I have said today, remember this: Stand up and fight.”

She added: “Stand up and fight for the freedoms we have won against socialism whether it is made of velvet or of iron.”


11:34 AM BST

Mordaunt claims Labour want to 'fight the battles of the past' and return to 1980s

Penny Mordaunt said the Conservative Party’s “greatest moments... come from when we feel at our lowest ebb and we face such a moment now”.

The Commons Leader claimed the Labour Party wanted to take the UK back to the 1980s, accusing Sir Keir Starmer of wanting to “fight the battles of the past”.

She said: “All that we have worked so hard to achieve is in peril...”

Putting a twist on Margaret Thatcher’s famous comment, Ms Mordaunt added: “Conference, we are not for returning.”

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, addresses Tory conference in Manchester this morning
Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, addresses Tory conference in Manchester this morning - Danny Lawson/PA

11:30 AM BST

Main hall at Tory conference packed ahead of Rishi Sunak speech


11:27 AM BST

Pictured: Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty walk to main conference hall ahead of PM's speech

Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty are pictured at Tory conference in Manchester today
Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty are pictured at Tory conference in Manchester today - Toby Melville /Reuters

11:25 AM BST

Penny Mordaunt urges Tories to 'stand up and fight'

Penny Mordaunt told Tory activists: “No matter what the attack, we don’t back down.”

She added: “Standing up to bullies is what we do.”

The Commons Leader said the Tories are facing the “fight of our lives” at the next general election as she said the party must now “stand up and fight... against the odds, against the polling”.


11:23 AM BST

Huge ovation for Penny Mordaunt as she says today is a 'turning point' for Tories

Penny Mordaunt is now on stage in the main hall at Tory conference in Manchester.

After a lengthy ovation and sustained applause from Tory activists, the Commons Leader said: “Wow. Fantastic. Conference I want you to know the feeling is entirely mutual.”

Ms Mordaunt said “this is the turning point” for the Tories and the point from which the Conservative Party will be measured.

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, addresses the Tory conference in Manchester this morning
Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, addresses the Tory conference in Manchester this morning - Carl Court /Getty Images Europe

11:10 AM BST

Sunak to speak for 55 minutes

Proceedings are about to get underway in the main conference hall in Manchester.

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Speaker, will be up first at 11.15am, followed by Johnny Mercer, the veterans’ affairs minister.

Then it will be time for Rishi Sunak’s speech. The Prime Minister will reportedly speak for about 55 minutes.

I will do my best to guide you through the key developments.


10:57 AM BST

Join the conversation

Telegraph readers are discussing the expected decision to scrap the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 in the comments section of today’s politics live blog:

A.V said: “Even before Covid, the timescale of HS2 meant it was always likely that technology would reduce the need for people to travel between London-Birmingham-Manchester for business meetings, making a nonsense of the business case that 20-30 minutes saved on the journey would be a massive benefit.”

Mark Davey said: “Regarding HS2, it needs to be built and not just to Manchester, to Glasgow. If the French and Japanese can have high speed rail we should. If the same attitude had been taken in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s there would be no motorway network or Channel tunnel.”

Dudley Nicholls said: “Why not scrap the first part of HS2, as well? What economic value will 10 minutes less to Birmingham bring? I know a lot has been spent but still lots of money to be saved - £30bn and fewer passengers now forecast. Too much an admission of failure I suspect - it should have been scrapped long before now.”

What do you make of the expected ditching of the northern leg of HS2? Join the conversation in the comments section below - just look for the speech bubble icon underneath the first post of the day.


10:54 AM BST

What is Rishi Sunak going to say in his speech?

Rishi Sunak will use his speech later this morning to argue that there is currently “the undeniable sense that politics just doesn’t work the way it should”.

He will say there is a “feeling that Westminster is a broken system – and the same goes for Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont”.

‌He will add: “It isn’t anger, it is an exhaustion with politics. In particular, politicians saying things, and then nothing ever changing. And you know what – people are right. Politics doesn’t work the way it should.

“We’ve had 30 years of a political system which incentivises the easy decision, not the right one. Thirty years of vested interests standing in the way of change.”


10:43 AM BST

Former Tory MP Nadine Dorries criticises Rishi Sunak: 'The PM nobody voted for'


10:35 AM BST

Senior Tory MP responds to HS2 decision


10:27 AM BST

Who is delivering a speech at Tory conference today?

There are only three senior Tory figures due to deliver a speech in the main hall at conference in Manchester today.

Things are supposed to get underway at 11.15am. This is the schedule.

  • Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the House of Commons

  • Johnny Mercer, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

  • Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party


10:10 AM BST

What will Andy Street do?

That is the question on many people’s lips this morning in Manchester ahead of Rishi Sunak’s speech when the PM is expected to confirm he is scrapping the northern leg of HS2.

Mr Street, the Tory Mayor of the West Midlands, said earlier this week that he “won’t let HS2 go without a fight” amid speculation he could resign if the Birmingham to Manchester leg is axed.

A spokesman for Mr Street told Times Radio’s Kate McCann this morning that Mr Street intended to “listen to PM speech and respond accordingly”.

A senior Tory resignation would be an explosive end to conference in Manchester and No10 will be bracing for what could be a bombshell response to Mr Sunak’s address.


10:00 AM BST

Pictured: Mordaunt arrives at Tory conference ahead of Sunak speech

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, arrives at Tory conference in Manchester  this morning
Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, arrives at Tory conference in Manchester this morning - Jon Super/AP

09:39 AM BST

Substantial queue already for Sunak's speech

With two and a half hours to go until Rishi Sunak makes his conference speech, a substantial queue has already built up for seats in the main hall, writes Gordon Rayner.

With so many seats in the conference hall reserved for VIPs and others, space is limited for those who do not have a seat set aside for them.

By 9.30am ushers were already telling those joining the queue that it was unlikely they would get in for the speech.

Tory activists queue ahead of Rishi Sunak's speech at Tory conference today
Tory activists queue ahead of Rishi Sunak's speech at Tory conference today - Gordon Rayner

09:37 AM BST

Pictured: Grant Shapps takes part in a TV interview on day four of Tory conference

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, appears on Sky News this morning
Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, appears on Sky News this morning - Adam Vaughan /Shutterstock

09:20 AM BST

'Inconceivable' that Autumn Statement would increase taxes, says Rees-Mogg

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be “inconceivable” for Jeremy Hunt to bring forward an Autumn Statement on November 22 which raised taxes.

The former Cabinet minister told Times Radio: “I think it is inconceivable that the Chancellor will bring forward an Autumn Statement that increases the burden of taxation as a percentage of GDP.”

Sir Jacob argued earlier this morning that tax cuts are possible now (see the post below at 08.57).


09:12 AM BST

Braverman: Tories are 'raising our game'


09:10 AM BST

HS2 an 'extravagant and out of control project', says Rees-Mogg

HS2 is an “extravagant and out of control project”, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said this morning as he welcomed the prospect of the Birmingham to Manchester leg being scrapped.

The former business secretary told Times Radio: “We have got to the position where we have the highest level of tax to GDP this country has had in 70 years. We need to cut our coat according to our cloth, by which I mean we need to reduce spending.

“It would be very good news if HS2, an extravagant and out of control project, is cut back. We need to be saving money and giving it back to people.”


08:57 AM BST

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg insists tax cuts are possible now

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg disagreed with Jeremy Hunt’s position that tax cuts are not possible in the short term.

The Chancellor argued earlier this week that big tax cuts now would be inflationary and he was unsure when the public finances would allow for tax cuts to be brought forward.

But Sir Jacob told Times Radio: “I think there are tax cuts you can make in the short term. There are tax cuts you could make that would sufficiently help the economy to make up for any loss of revenue. And not all tax changes would be inflationary.”

He added: “It is not true to say that tax cuts are de facto inflationary.”


08:52 AM BST

Tories should make 'sensible' manifesto pledge to leave ECHR, says Rees-Mogg

The Tories should pledge in their next election manifesto to take the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said this morning.

The former business secretary said such a pledge would be “sensible”.

He told Times Radio: “I would like to see that in the manifesto. I don’t think you can do it without a manifesto commitment so I don’t think it would be possible to do before a general election.

“But I think it would be a sensible manifesto commitment.”


08:49 AM BST

Rees-Mogg hoping PM's speech will be 'icing on the cake' at 'excellent' conference

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said he hoped Rishi Sunak will put the “icing on the cake” at Tory conference by delivering a strong speech at lunchtime.

Asked who he believed had the better conference out of Mr Sunak, Liz Truss and Suella Braverman, the former business secretary told Times Radio: “Oh, the Conservative Party has had a good conference... because the Conservative Party has had a good party conference it is a good party conference for the leader of the leader so it has been good for Rishi Sunak.

“He has had an excellent conference. Let us hope that he has a speech that puts the icing on the cake.”


08:29 AM BST

Is Rishi Sunak delivering on his five key pledges?

The Telegraph has been keeping track of Rishi Sunak’s five priorities and assessing whether the Prime Minister is making progress on them.

This is the latest assessment:


08:22 AM BST

Labour poll lead over Tories rebounds to 19 points

Labour’s poll lead over the Tories has rebounded to 19 points.

A new Savanta survey, conducted between September 29 and October 1, put Labour on 46 per cent of the vote which was an increase of two points on the previous poll conducted between September 22-24.

The Tories were on 27 per cent, suffering a three point fall.

The Liberal Democrats were unchanged on 11 per cent, Reform UK was on five per cent and the Greens were on four per cent.


08:12 AM BST

Shapps all but confirms HS2 northern leg will be axed

Grant Shapps all but confirmed that HS2 will be axed between Birmingham and Manchester by Rishi Sunak in his Conservative conference speech later this morning.

The Telegraph reported on Monday this week that Mr Sunak had made the decision.

The Defence Secretary, who was until September last year transport secretary, told BBC Breakfast: “We have to wait for his actual speech to hear exact confirmation.

“He’s taken a very close careful look at that second part of the HS2 line – I keep reading that HS2 will be scrapped, HS2 will actually run.

“That second part of the line, the balance that has to be made given that bit has not been built yet, is whether it makes sense to carry on building that given the world has changed.”


08:09 AM BST

Sunak speech at 11.45am: What to expect

Rishi Sunak will vow to end 30 years of the status quo in politics when he delivers his speech at Tory conference in Manchester at approximately 11.45am this morning.

He will attempt to portray himself as the change candidate at the next general election and seek to paint Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, as the continuity choice for voters.

The Prime Minister is set to announce that the second leg of HS2, from Birmingham to Manchester, will be scrapped – ending weeks of speculation as he scales back a flagship Tory building project.

But in turn, he will promise billions of pounds for other transport schemes, arguing that he is a political leader who is honest with the public and willing to take big calls ahead of an election being planned for autumn 2024.

Other announcements will be signalled. Moves considered in recent weeks include scrapping A-levels, further action to crack down on poor-quality university degrees, and new anti-smoking measures.


08:05 AM BST

Burnham will press Starmer to commit to reviving HS2 northern leg

Andy Burnham said he will try to persuade Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party to make a commitment to reinstate the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2.

Asked if the party would reinstate the section of the route which Rishi Sunak is expected to scrap, Mr Burnham told BBC Breakfast: “I certainly hope so. There is an outstanding commitment from the party to build Northern Powerhouse Rail in full.

“Like us the Labour Party will have to look at what is announced today but I absolutely will be hoping to persuade them to go ahead with it.”


08:01 AM BST

Andy Burnham blasts PM over 'desperate' decision to axe HS2 northern leg

Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, accused Rishi Sunak of “ripping up” long term decisions over the expected move to scrap the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2.

Mr Burnham said the Prime Minister was making “short term desperate decisions”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The Prime Minister will stand in front today of a slogan saying long term decisions. Hang on a minute, these were long term decisions that had been taken to connect the country with modern high speed rail.

“Actually he is ripping up those long term decisions and actually taking some quite short term desperate decisions as far as i can see at that conference this week.”


07:54 AM BST

'This is certainly no Enoch Powell situation''

Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s rhetoric in her speech yesterday was “certainly no Enoch Powell situation”, her Cabinet colleague Grant Shapps said this morning as he defended her claim that a “hurricane” of mass migration was coming.

The Defence Secretary told Times Radio: “She makes the absolutely correct point we’ve already seen a lot of movement… we could see a lot more, a hurricane, as she describes it, of people moving.”

Asked about comparisons which have been made to Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech, Mr Shapps said: “So many people are from immigrant backgrounds in this country. I think I’m third generation myself… Suella’s first generation, her parents came over in the 60s. So this is certainly no Enoch Powell situation, is it, to make the very obvious point.”


07:50 AM BST

Poll: Six in 10 voters believe Sunak is 'incompetent'

Almost six in 10 voters believe Rishi Sunak is an “incompetent” premier in a set back for the Prime Minister ahead of his keynote address at Tory conference later today.

A new poll conducted by Savanta between September 22-24 found that 58 per cent of voters believe Mr Sunak is incompetent. Just over one third of voters - 34 per cent - believe Mr Sunak is competent.

In a further headache for Mr Sunak some 36 per cent of 2019 Tory voters believe he is an incompetent PM.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, walks in the rain at Tory conference in Manchester yesterday
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, walks in the rain at Tory conference in Manchester yesterday - Toby Melville /Reuters

07:43 AM BST

Scrapping HS2 northern leg could be 'fantastic levelling up opportunity', says Shapps

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, suggested there may be more “worthwhile” ways of spending money than on completing the Manchester to Birmingham leg of HS2.

Rishi Sunak is expected to confirm in his speech today that the leg has been scrapped.

Speaking to GB News, Mr Shapps said there had been a “change in travel patterns” since the pandemic and suggested there could be “fantastic levelling opportunity” from diverting funding to other projects.

Asked whether ministers were turning their back on levelling up by scrapping part of the planned rail line, Mr Shapps said: “It absolutely is not turning our back at all.

“In fact, of course, we need to wait for the Prime Minister’s speech. If he were to scrap the second leg of HS2… and take that money, you can’t really judge it without finding out where that money is going to be spent because that could actually have a fantastic levelling up opportunity. Billions of pounds, tens of billions of pounds, so what could that be spent on?

“And perhaps there are things which are worthwhile doing more than building a high-speed rail line given Covid, given what’s happened, given the change in travel patterns.”


07:40 AM BST

Poll: Majority believe Sunak doing a bad job on all five of his priorities

A majority of the British public believe Rishi Sunak is doing a bad job delivering on his five key priorities in a set back for the Prime Minister ahead of his keynote speech at Tory conference today.

Mr Sunak pledged in January to halve inflation, grow the economy, cut government debt, reduce NHS waiting lists and “stop the boats”.

In a new poll of 1,000 British adults conducted between September 22-26, Ipsos UK found widespread dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister’s performance on all five priorities, with dissatisfaction having grown across the board since the pollster last asked about them in May.

On halving inflation, 57 per cent said they thought Mr Sunak was doing a bad job, compared to 55 per cent who said the same in May. Only 14 per cent said they thought he was doing a good job, down from 17 per cent.

Some 54 per cent said he was doing a bad job on growing the economy, up from 50 per cent, while 54 per cent said he was doing a bad job on reducing the national debt, up from 49 per cent.

On cutting NHS waiting lists, dissatisfaction has soared with 71 per cent saying the Prime Minister is doing a bad job, compared to 62 per cent in May, while almost two-thirds said he was doing a bad job on stopping small boats crossing the Channel.