Vaughan Gething says 'it's always been a fiction that HS2 project was Wales and England project'

The Welsh Economy Minister has called the HS2 project a "fiction" for Wales during a press conference where he criticised the UK Government's handling of the controversial project.

HS2 would see a high-speed rail line linking some of the country’s largest cities, connecting London, the Midlands and the north of England, with construction split into three phases.

But in the past 24-hours there have been reports that the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to make an announcement with regards the potential scrapping of the rail line leg to Manchester.

This is now overshadowing the Conservative conference where Mr Sunak is due to speak tomorrow. He is facing a backlash from fellow Tories, businesses and northern leaders over the way the potential HS2 'rethink' has been leaked.

Rishi Sunak is facing backlash from Tories, businesses and northern leaders over the way the potential HS2 'rethink' has been leaked.

In a response to this, Vaughan Gething said: "If the HS2 leg is cancelled beyond Birmingham, then it'll be an extraordinary thing for the Conservative Government to betray the North of England and former railway building in Manchester.

"You can't get over the reality of what is happening in a disgraceful way in which it has been leaked with all the uncertainty generated by the UK Government, that they then refuse to resolve."

He added: "The First Minister has been on record and I completely agree with him that it has always been a fiction that HS2 is an England and Wales project.

"All of the department of transport owned assessments show that there was a net negative to the Wales economy and yet the consequential that went to Scotland and Northern Island were never provided to Wales. So, there's never been a fair share of this project anyway.

Vaughan Gething agreed with The First Minister that HS2 has always been a fiction for Wales. Credit: PA Images

"However, as the First Minister said cancelling that project north of Birmingham would explode the fiction that this is an England and Wales project if there is a reinvestment from different projects across North England, that will reiterate is an England only project and there should be consequentials."

When asked what action the Welsh Government will take and why he wasn't able to secure a commitment from Keir Starmer, Mr Gething responded by saying: "The difficulty is that political arguments and decisions made by the UK ministers in the government ignores the reality of it's own impact.

"There is no legal route in this and it's about whether people are prepared to do what they say. But I think people demanding that Keir Starmer makes pledges before an election are living in a different world."

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