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On Track For Disaster? PM Faces All-Out Tory Mutiny Over Rail ‘Betrayal’ With Fury He Is Dooming The North To 100 YEARS Of Misery By Axing Flagship ‘Levelling Up’ Plans – And Demands For Mps To Get A Free Vote

Conservatives MPs and local leaders joined a brutal backlash as the PM tried to defend his ‘ambitious and unparalleled’ overhaul of inter-city links.

The premier was accused of giving his crucial Red Wall voters ‘scraps off the table’ after the HS2 route to Leeds was ditched in favour of a Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway line.

The HS3 line linking Manchester and Leeds – known as Northern Powerhouse Rail – is also being shelved.

On a visit to a Network Rail hub in Yorkshire, the PM rejected as ‘rubbish’ claims that the changes break the ‘Levelling Up’ pledges in Tories’ 2019 manifesto.

He argued that high speed rail was ‘grindingly slow to build’ and most of the benefits could be achieved more quickly.

However, Transport Select Committee chair Huw Merriman swiped that Mr Johnson kept ‘selling perpetual sunlight and then leaving it to others to explain the arrival of moonlight’.

Northern mayors and the Tory leader of Bolton Council Martyn Cox have written to Mr Johnson slating him for ignoring experts, and demanding the plans are put to a free vote in the Commons.

In a joint letter, they said the policy is ‘critical to the future of the North for the next 100 years and more’.

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