Boris Johnson is heading for a rebellion by up to 60 Conservative MPs by giving the go-ahead for the controversial £100bn flagship rail project, HS2.
The hugely expensive scheme is expected to be approved at a special meeting of the cabinet and then the prime minister will announce the decision in a statement in the Commons.
In a bid to placate potential rebel MPs, the PM’s statement will also include the announcement of £5bn of new funding to overhaul bus and cycle links for every UK region outside London.
The package includes at least 4,000 new zero emission buses to promote greener commuting, over 250 miles of new cycle routes and dozens of new ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes, designed to make town centres safer and greener for cyclists and pedestrians.
The go-ahead for HS2, which will eventually slash journey times between London and the north of England, is seen as a move to repay northern voters who swept Mr Johnson into Number 10 in December.
As a result, it has become a political imperative for the prime minister, who won his 80-seat Commons majority with pledges to improve infrastructure in the north of England and the Midlands.
But it risks a furious backlash from Conservative MPs in the home counties and middle England, who are bitterly opposed to the project on grounds of its ballooning cost and the destruction of rural beauty spots.