Speculation surrounding the fate of the Manchester leg of HS2 has prompted a wave of support for the project from the North East.

Politicians, the economic bodies and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership have all made statements of support for the project. 

The main problem with scrapping the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the journey is that it shares a key section with the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

The leader of Darlington Borough Council made an impassioned response to the news by arguing that people need to be looking towards the future.

Get the latest news, sports, and entertainment delivered straight to your device, click here

Stephen Harker, Labour leader of Darlington Council, said: "People get confused about what HS2 and NPR are trying to do.

"The real reason for those two projects is to increase the capacity of the rail to the North.

"It needs to be increased to carry more people and freight.

"It will bring in money and goes some of the way towards the Levelling Up agenda.

"Now it looks like they (the government) will be rowing back on delivering those promises.

"It's going to have a long-lasting impact if it is scrapped and this will affect generations."

John McCabe, the North East England Chamber of Commerce chief executive, made it clear how much cutting back on HS2 will impact the future of the NPR.

Mr McCabe said: "We know from our members how important rail connectivity is to the region’s economy.

"Connectivity helps to attract people to live and work in the region, supports trade and secures vital investment. Public transport is also key to hitting our net-zero targets.

"We need reliable connections from east-west to other northern cities, as well as strong intercity connectivity.

"The north needs its fair share of infrastructure investment to ensure access to jobs, deliver productivity dividends and that the government is delivering on its levelling up agenda.

"We will continue to advocate for investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Leamside Line upgrade, as well as increased capacity on the East Coast Main Line and the Washington metro link, which will generate over £90million a year in economic benefits to the region and support suppliers across the North East.

"We need to see the government outline clearly how it will invest in the future of rail connectivity in the north – and we need that clarity soon."

Henri Murison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, explained how vital stretches of HS2 were going to be in NPR.

He said: "The fundamental point is that NPR is supposed to connect the North East.

"If the leg to Manchester is scrapped that will not help us get from East to West.

"Why is the Tees Valley Mayor spouting misleading lines from the Prime Minister's interview this morning (September 28)?

"Why doesn't he stand up for the North of England rather than standing with the PM who is seeking to mislead people that cancelling the HS2 leg will have no effect.

"Sadiq Khan has come to Leeds to fight for the North.

"Ben Houchen has to choose who he is loyal to, the people who vote for him or the party who he serves in the House of Lords."

Ben Houchen responded by stating that HS2 is "a colossal waste of money" and that he had never supported it.

He said: "If I asked anyone in Teesside what Henri Murison has delivered for them I'd be received by a lot of blank faces. For him to question my loyalty to this area is frankly farcical.

"If he had been paying attention I have never backed HS2 and am certainly not parroting Government lines.

"HS2 is a colossal waste of money. With an original price tag of £32bn it is now estimated to cost £180bn and none of that will be spent in the North East or to benefit the North East. If I was given just a fraction of its budget I could revolutionise transport across Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool and save the taxpayer a fortune at the same time.

"I'd urge Henri to stop attending round table meetings and buffet lunches hosted by those private interests who fund him and actually speak to the people I represent to see whether they'd prefer to see billions of pounds to be spent on connecting Manchester to the South or on good quality transport links in our region, but as a former Labour politician I suspect Henri is pushing his own party lines.”

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, described how the cancellation is like driving a "coach and horse through the Levelling Up agenda".

He said: "This is just sheer incompetence on the part of this government. They hailed HS2 as the catalyst for greater productivity and economic growth in the North and it was their flagship levelling up policy.

"They’ve abandoned the eastern leg to the Northeast but frankly, now reducing this to a lolly stick connection between Birmingham and the outskirts of London which then has to separately connect to the city is beyond ridiculous.

"The financial benefits come from delivering the entire project not just one part of it.

Read more

Tributes pour in for Northumberland's Sycamore Gap tree

True Padel to open 'first of its kind' facility in Durham

Durham food festival Chester-le-EATS back this weekend

"We as a nation have to be able to deliver on infrastructure projects. Businesses have already invested on the basis of connecting the major cities of the Midlands and North.

"Ford recently demanded of the UK government Ambition, Commitment and Consistency. Cancelling HS2 trashes all of that.

"HS2 in full releases capacity on the conventional network for local regional and freight traffic making an enormous contribution to our Net Zero ambitions. Cancelling it drives a coach and horse through the Levelling Up agenda."