Rishi Sunak has insisted that he has “absolutely not” given up on HS2 amid speculation he is poised to announce scrapping the high-speed rail project.

With the Conservative Party conference taking place in Manchester, the row over the rail line which is planned to connect London with Manchester, has overshadowed the event.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting to sign off the measures during the party conference or could announce the halt during his keynote speech which will close the event on Wednesday.

Mr Sunak said that he would not be "forced into a premature decision” on the future of HS2.

If cancelled, the potential decision has been billed as the biggest infrastructure climbdown in a generation.

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If completed, HS2 trains would connect to Motherwell, Lockerbie, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley – quickening journey times from Scotland to London.

Despite the speculation, the Prime Minister has refused to answer questions over whether the HS2 line from Birmingham to Manchester will be scrapped due to soaring costs.

He said: “I know there’s a lot of speculation on HS2.

“All I would say is the way I approach this job, I take a look at the facts, I take my time to get the decision right on behalf of the country – whatever it might be – and that’s what I’ll do with this, as I do with everything else.”

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, the PM added: “As you saw with my recent decision on net zero, when I make a decision that I think is important of course I go and explain that to everyone, explain why I’m doing what I’m doing, why I thought it was right to change direction there.”

He added: “If that happens and is necessary, of course that’s what I’ll do.”

Asked whether he had given up on HS2, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the BBC: “Absolutely not.”

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Mr Sunak said: “We have got spades on the ground on HS2 as we speak and we’re getting on and delivering it.

“But it’s not the only thing we’re doing to help spread opportunity and level up around the country.”

Rishi Sunak said that he would not be "forced into a premature decision” on the future of HS2.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I am not going to be forced into a premature decision because it is good for someone’s TV programme”

“What I want to do is make the right decision for the country. This is an enormous amount of people’s money, taxpayers’ money, everybody watching, billions and billions of pounds.

“We shouldn’t be rushed into things like that. What people would expect from me is to take the time to go over it properly and make sure we make the right long-term decisions for the country.”

The Prime Minister rejected a suggestion that the row over HS2 had overshadowed the conference and that the handling of the announcement had been poor.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t think that. Actually we’re having a great conference.”

Pressed again, he said: “The mood here is great.”

He then proceeded to list all the other UK Government announcements made at the conference in Manchester this week.

Read more: HS2 decision signals rail project going ‘off-track’

But Mr Sunak said the costs of HS2 had gone “far beyond” what had been predicted and the sums involved were “enormous”.

He told Times Radio: “It’s clear that the costs of this programme has escalated far beyond what anyone thought at the beginning.

“I know there’s lots of speculation on it, but what I would say is I’ll approach this in the same way I approach everything in this job, I will take the time to look at it properly, get across the detail and then decide what’s right for the country.

“The sums involved are enormous and it’s right that the Prime Minister takes proper care over it.

“It’s obviously not my money – it’s taxpayers’ money and we should make the right decisions on these things.”

Questions about HS2 have overshadowed Mr Sunak’s first party conference as Prime Minister, but the PM denied that proceedings in Manchester have been “chaotic”.

In a series of broadcast interviews he refused to say what would happen to the line.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Sunak said he would be prime minister at the next Tory gathering.

But he also insisted that he “was going to do what I believe is right for the country in the long term”.

Asked if he was willing to be unpopular to do that, he told BBC News: “I’m prepared to persuade people that what I’m doing is right.”

On Monday, Tory mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street made an impassioned last-ditch appeal to Mr Sunak not to cancel the link between Birmingham and Manchester.

He did not rule out resigning over the issue, and said: “You will be turning your back on an opportunity to level up – a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“You will indeed be damaging your international reputation as a place to invest.”

Reports suggest an expanded Northern Powerhouse Rail project linking cities and cash for potholes and bus routes could be announced to mitigate curtailing the project, feared to have spiralled past £100 billion.

Labour’s mayor in Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said curtailing HS2 would be “profoundly depressing” and leave northerners treated as “second class citizens”.