Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead to the £100bn flagship rail project High Speed 2.
He announced work on the hugely expensive scheme will continue after carrying out a review into whether it should proceed given costs have “exploded”.
The prime minister said the firm handling construction has not “distinguished itself” but that “poor management has not detracted from the fundamental value” of the plan.
There is “no doubt of the clinching case for high speed rail”, he added, promising to “restore discipline to the programme” by appointing a full-time minister to oversee its progress in Thursday’s cabinet reshuffle.
He confirmed work on phase one – which runs from London Euston to Birmingham – and phase two a – an extension to Crewe – would continue “on something approaching time and budget”.
Phase two b – which runs to Manchester and north east to Leeds – will be put under review and subsumed into the current “Northern powerhouse” rail project.
But the decision puts him on a collision course with up to 60 Tory MPs in the home counties and middle England who are bitterly opposed to the project.