Rishi Sunak will reinvest part of £36 billion from controversially cancelling completing the HS2 rail line on improving key roads in Scotland.

The Prime Minister confirmed to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that he was axing the HS2 project from Birmingham to Manchester amid speculation he was poised to do so overshadowing the gathering.

HS2 trains were planned to serve Scottish rail stations including Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.

He stressed that the costs of HS2 has “more than doubled”.

Mr Sunak said: “I say to those who backed the project in the first place, the facts have changed.

“And the right thing to do when the facts change is to have the courage to change direction.”

Read more: Analysis: Panic stations run rife at Conservative Party conference

He added: “I am ending this long-running saga.

"I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project and in its place, we will reinvest every single penny, £36 billion, in hundreds of new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, across the country.

“This means £36 billion of investment in the projects that will make a real difference across our nation.”

As part of a drive to create a new northern network, he pledged to invest £36 billion in a raft of other transport schemes, largely across the midlands and north of England, but also in Scotland.

His transport pledges set out in his keynote address include upgrading the A75 which Mr Sunak said would boost links between Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the A1 and M6, which continues the M74 from the Border through northern England.

Read more: Douglas Ross suggests UK Government could intervene to dual A9

The pledge will likely add to the frustration of the Scottish Government over UK ministers spending in devolved areas in Scotland, with the SNP and Green ministers responsible for transport priorities north of the Border.

On the first day of the Conservative conference, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross suggested that UK ministers could step in to complete the dualling of the A9 if the Scottish Government does not set out a timetable to complete the long-running project. 

The Prime Minister vowed to resurface roads “across the country” and build “hundreds of other schemes”.

Confirmation of the decision to axe the northern leg of HS2 came despite pleas from Tory West Midland mayor Andy Street to back the scheme.

Read more: Rishi Sunak says he won't be 'forced into premature decision' over HS2

With Mr Street watching on, the Prime Minister said: “We will complete the line from Birmingham to Euston and yes, HS2 trains will still run here to Manchester and journey times will be cut between Manchester, Birmingham, London by 30 minutes.

“And I say this to Andy Street, a man I have huge admiration and respect for, I know we have different views on HS2.

“But I also know we can work together to ensure a faster, stronger spine, quicker trains and more capacity between Birmingham and Manchester.”

But the Tory architect of the HS2 project, former Conservative prime minister David Cameron, issued a scathing attack over the decision.

He said: "Today’s decision on HS2 is the wrong one.

"It will help to fuel the views of those who argue that we can no longer think or act for the long-term as a country; that we are heading in the wrong direction."

Union bosses have also criticised the decision to axe HS2.

Laurence Turner, the GMB union’s head of research and policy, said: “Rishi Sunak’s decision to inflict the biggest rail cut since the Beeching axe will send a shockwave through the construction industry and railway supply chain, costing hundreds of jobs.

“The UK’s political instability was already holding the economy back – it will now be even harder to fund and deliver the new infrastructure that the country desperately needs.

“We can’t rebalance the economy or fix the railway capacity crisis without HS2. It’s essential that the planned route is now protected so that a future government can reverse this disastrous decision.”

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said: “The incompetence of successive Tory governments has now cost the taxpayer billions and led to this disastrous decision for Britain’s economy, environment and our ailing transport infrastructure.

“High speed rail together with a modern expanding public transport network is key to the future of linking every part of our country together, from north to south and east to west.

“Public transport investment is not an either-or question. The fact is we will not be able to tackle the climate emergency without encouraging people to use modern, cheap and efficient high speed rail and hugely expanded local bus services.

“The key to thriving economies of the future is to be environmentally sustainable and to interconnect cities, towns and villages to promote economic activity.

“The Conservative government is playing political games ahead of an election and instead of investing properly in Britain’s public transport and high speed future, Rishi Sunak risks putting the country in the slow lane.”