RISHI Sunak repeatedly dodged questions on whether HS2 will run to Manchester during a car crash TV interview.

Ahead of the Tory conference in the city this weekend, the Prime Minister was interviewed on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

He dodged answering on a number of topics, but crucially refused to be drawn on whether he could guarantee that the second leg of the high-speed rail line, from Birmingham to the North West, will be built.

The issue of the huge and costly infrastructure project looks likely to loom over the Tory conference this weekend.

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Asked by host Kuenssberg if he could guarantee that HS2 will make it to Manchester, Sunak said: “There’s already spades in the ground on HS2 and we’re getting on with delivering it.”

Kuenssberg interrupted to point out that wasn’t her question and again asked for a “yes or no” if the route will be linked up to Manchester.

“I’m not going to comment on all this speculation,” he said.

“We’ve got a project, we’ve got spades in the ground and we’re getting on with it.

“But it’s right to focus on levelling up…”

The National:

Kuenssberg pointed out to Sunak that as PM it is his decision, and again pressed if HS2 to Manchester would happen or not.

“As I said, we’ve got spades in the ground, I’m not going to comment on further speculation but what I can tell you is we’re committed to levelling up this country.”

Sunak also denied his failure to announce a decision on the future of the HS2 rail project is making the UK a “laughing stock” as critics have warned.

“I’d completely reject that,” he said.

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“I speak to business leaders all the time. I’ve just been around the world, I’ve recently been in Japan, in America, in Europe, we’re attracting billions of pounds of investment into this country, creating jobs everywhere.

“That’s what I hear from business leaders around the world, they’re excited about the opportunity that investing in Britain offers.”

It comes as Sunak refused to commit to cutting taxes, despite pressure from within his own party, instead insisting that he will focus on measures to cut inflation.

Earlier, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove (below) said he wants cuts announced before the election to ease the tax burden on working households.

The National: Michael Gove

Speaking to Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips on Sky News, he said that taxes are “higher than we would want them to be”.

“I would like to see the tax burden reduced before the next election,” he said.

However, Sunak refused to give the commitment to a pre-election tax cut.

“The best tax cut we can give people is to halve inflation,” he told the BBC.

The PM added: “It’s inflation that’s putting the prices of things up, inflation that’s making people feel poorer, the quicker we bring inflation down, the better it is, and that’s why it’s the right priority, and we are making good progress.”