Jeremy Hunt admits he flew to Manchester Tory conference from London

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt conceded that he flew from London to Manchester (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt conceded that he flew from London to Manchester (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Jeremy Hunt has admitted he flew to Manchester from London for the Conservative Party conference rather than taking the train.

The Chancellor blamed a train cancellation due to industrial action for choosing the carbon-intensive mode of transport.

It comes as train drivers are striking on the start and end dates of the Tory gathering in the city.

Asked whether he flew, as first reported in the Guardian, Mr Hunt told BBC Breakfast: “I took a BA flight because I was told that my train had been cancelled.”

The flight from London Heathrow Airport to Manchester takes around an hour, according to the BA website, while the train takes about two hours and 15 minutes.

On his return journey, the senior Cabinet minister said: “I’ll probably be driving home because I think there’s another train strike on Wednesday.”

Challenged over what his transport choices said about the state of the railways, Mr Hunt said they “need improving” but declined to comment on the fate of HS2.

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has failed to announce a decision on whether HS2’s Birmingham to Manchester leg will go ahead (Peter Byrne/PA)

Speaking to broadcasters on Monday, he repeatedly said it is not the “appropriate time” to announce whether to cut the northern leg of the high-speed rail project.

He told Sky News: “In terms of things like the northern leg of HS2, whatever decision we make, we will take very careful note of the need to have proper economic infrastructure throughout the whole country.

“In terms of this specific decision I’m afraid you will have to wait.

“We will make the announcement at the appropriate time.”

The Prime Minister has faced a backlash from his predecessors, businesses and leaders across the North for wavering over whether HS2 will ever reach Manchester.

Theresa May is the latest former premier to urge Rishi Sunak not to ditch the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the high-speed rail project that was designed to link the North and London.

A drastic cost-cutting exercise could also see it end at Old Oak Common in the capital’s western suburbs rather than reach its centre.