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Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council and Chair of Core Cities UK, said:

It is tempting to see the decision to cancel HS2 Eastern Leg as a Northern England issue, but in reality this decision affects the whole of the UK.

As Core Cities UK has long argued, building HS2 in full would have benefited cities across our network through greater capacity and increased regional productivity. It would have been a massive statement of intent of Government's stated ambition to 'level up' the UK.

A fully built High Speed Rail network would also have bolstered the UK's Net Zero targets, moving more freight and cars off our crowded roads and provided an alternative to carbon intensive domestic air travel.

Today's announcement is a false economy, not a strategic plan, saving a relatively small amount of money while causing years of disruption for commuters by attempting to improve existing infrastructure that was first built in the Victorian era.

Leaders and mayors across the Core Cities network, many of whose cities would not have directly benefited from the Eastern Leg, stand united. This is a short-sighted decision that will worsen UK regional inequality.