Boris Johnson is under growing pressure from city leaders to sign off the government’s flagship high-speed rail project.
Political leaders from the North and Midlands have demanded he must “unleash the potential” of the regions.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street, Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham and Leeds council leader Judith Blake warned the Prime Minister that voters would be “watching and waiting”.
They wrote in the Sunday Times: “People in the part of the Midlands and the north have handed Boris the keys to Downing Street.
“Now he must unleash the potential of our regions. High-speed rail is the place to start.”
It comes amid growing fears that Mr Johnson is preparing to scrap or scale-back HS2 and redirect the money towards other transport schemes in the North of England.
Downing Street aides are understood to have concerns about the estimated £110bn cost of HS2 and would prefer to divert funds to pay for a high-speed link between Manchester and Leeds, with the journey taking just 30 minutes.
The Daily Mirror has called for HS2 to go ahead – but to start from the North and travel southwards at the same time as developing a trans-Pennine route.
The PM faces his first significant rebellion as 18 MPs from the new intake – including many in “red wall” seats who want money spent on other infrastructure projects – join Tory rebels intent on blocking HS2.
It is understood they plan to confront the PM at Downing Street this week.
One rebel Tory MP said: “This is the last chance to knock some sense into the PM. This is the first rebellion for the new MPs. The money can be far better spent elsewhere.”