"Disrespectful" Rishi Sunak has finally confirmed that the HS2 (high-speed rail line) project due to connect Manchester with Birmingham and then central London, will be axed.

The issue has been at the forefront of debate this week during the Conservative party conference in Manchester, the very city where HS2 was supposed to benefit.

Critics, local leaders and businesses have blasted the prime minister for refusing to confirm the cancellation earlier in the week as reports initially suggested.

But today, Sunak confirmed he would "end the long-running saga" and instead pledged £36 billion to new transport projects.

Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, accused the government of "disrespecting people across the whole of the North".

"It just proves there are so many people in politics - many in the Tory party - that think they can treat the north of England differently to the way they treat other parts of the country," Burnham told BBC Breakfast this morning.

'Ending the long-running saga'. What Rishi Sunak said:

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was introduced to the Tory conference stage by his wife, Akshata Murty. Murty, a businesswoman, is an heiress to a fortune worth billions and has lived a life divided between three continents.

Sunak said "we will reinvest every single penny" saved from HS2, which he says is £36 billion pounds, in hundreds of new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, and across the country.

"Every region outside of London will receive the same or more government investment than they would have done under HS2, with quicker results," he said.

"With our new Network North, you will be able to get from Manchester to the new station in Bradford in 30 minutes. Sheffield in 42 minutes, and to Hull in 84 minutes on a fully, electrified line."

"I challenge anyone with a straight face to tell me that that isn't what the north really needs".

Cabinet members gave a warm reaction to the PM's HS2 announcement, with whoops and cheers heard in the auditorium.

Sunak also confirmed HS2 will travel all the way to Euston station in London - in line with the initial plan.

Response to the cancellation:

Sky News' Beth Rigby said: "Beth Rigby, "I did ask Rishi Sunak yesterday whether he decided what he was going to do about HS2 and he said no. That was a lie".

Political commentator Jon Sopel also commented: "Delete HS2. Insert Network North. The problem is having been promised HS2 by successive Conservative PMs since 2010, why would you believe that a mass of other infrastructure projects being announced today will be delivered?"

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, asked for money back: "Any claim that #HS2 is an England and Wales scheme is over. It is clear that HS2, or the remnants of it, is an England-only scheme. The UK Government now needs to step up and give Wales the money we are already owed from this failed project."

The Conservative West Midlands mayor Andy Street, who on Monday called an impromptu press conference to warn Mr Sunak that getting rid of HS2 would amount to "cancelling the future", is said to be distraught by the news of the prime minister's decision.

Former prime ministers Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron issued previous warnings against scaling the high-speed line back.

However, some Tory MPs oppose HS2, arguing it is a waste of money and there are better ways to improve transport links.

The football club Manchester United was among 30 businesses who wrote to the prime minister urging him to commit to the line and avoid "economic self-sabotage".

It was hoped HS2 would cut journey times, create more space on the rail network and boost jobs outside London.

However, there had been concerns about the mounting costs of infrastructure