Rishi Sunak is reportedly aiming to control the spiralling cost of the HS2 railway line project, which could reach over £100bn.
The project’s finances were “far worse than anyone knows” and HS2 bosses had allowed “massive overspend… like kids with the golden credit card,” a source close to Sunak told The Times.
It comes as the Prime Minister faces a cabinet split over the issue after widespread speculation that he could be preparing to axe the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the line and to end it at Old Oak Common in west London rather than in Euston.
Former Conservative leader Lord William Hague told the paper: “It should have been cancelled a few years ago when it was clear the whole thing was out of control.”
But other senior Tories have urged Sunak not to curtail the route.
Former chancellors Lord Philip Hammond and George Osborne, former deputy prime minister Lord Michael Heseltine and Patrick McLoughlin, a former transport secretary, urged Sunak to commit to completing the project, as well as mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham.
The Prime Minister is now not expected to make any decisions on HS2 until the autumn statement following the backlash.
It’s been suggested No10 could transfer savings to other regional projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) from Manchester to Leeds or new northern underground stations.
No10 and HS2 have been approached for comment.