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Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak fails to commit to eastern HS2 leg days before autumn Budget is revealed in Commons

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Rishi Sunak has refused to be drawn on the future of the eastern leg of HS2 just three days before announcing his spending plans in the autumn Budget later this week.

Deflecting a question on the matter on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, the chancellor also failed to confirm whether a new Northern Powerhouse Rail link from Leeds to Manchester via Bradford would be built.

An announcement on the matter will be made “shortly”, Mr Sunak said.

It came as the chancellor also admitted that £4.2bn of the £7bn worth of announcements in the Budget related to transport for the next five years had already been allocated – with the government adding a further £1.5bn as a “top up”.

“It’s a great example of levelling up in practice, and it’s ultimately just going to create growth in all of those places,” Mr Sunak said of the government’s plans.

Over the weekend, the chancellor announced a series of spending pledges ahead of the autumn Budget on Wednesday, which include £5bn for health research and innovation and £3bn for education.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Mr Sunak reiterated that he will do “whatever it takes” to support families with the cost of living.

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