As Mr Johnson took part in Prime Minister’s Questions, his spokesperson was confirming that new ministers were in the process of being appointed “with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country”.
Only time will tell if Michael Gove, as the new Housing Secretary with the additional remit of levelling up, can meet this test just days after the emergence of historic comments by him which were both demeaning and derogatory of the North and its people.
Nevertheless, Mr Johnson’s changes do appear – for now – to fall well short of the undertaking that he gave to the North’s 15 million residents when successfully campaigning for the Tory leadership in 2019.
Then, he said that the post of Northern Powerhouse Minister should be elevated to Cabinet and he then promoted Jake Berry to this enhanced role.
Yet, just as Mr Berry was getting to grips with an elevated brief which was also a key demand of the Power Up The North campaign spearheaded by The Yorkshire Post, the post was curiously downgraded in the February 2020 shake-up.
And while Grant Shapps has done more than most after the Northern Powerhouse role was added to his transport brief, this newspaper, for one, remains even more convinced that there needs to be a dedicated Secretary of State based in the ‘red wall’ driving forward levelling up and regional policy.
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