THE AMBITION now being shown by Ministers over the Northern Powerhouse makes it even more regrettable that Theresa May allowed her key aides, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, to ditch this policy agenda when she became Prime Minister in July 2016.
Just think how further advanced plans for rail improvements – or plans to create the north of England’s equivalent of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could be – if these flawed policy advisors had not been able to undermine the work that George Osborne, and others, had already started?
One of the reasons why The Yorkshire Post called for the post of Northern Powerhouse Minister to be elevated to the Cabinet when the Power Up The North campaign was launched in the summer, it also explains why Jake Berry, the current incumbent, should be facing monthly questions in the House of Commons.
Not only would it make it harder for future ministers, and their unelected aides, to sideline the North’s political, economic and social interests, but it would also place an even greater onus on Boris Johnson, and his team, to deliver the many pre-election promises that they made to this region.
Yet this should not dismiss from the fact that Mr Berry is, judging by his latest interviews, intent on making his mark – and that Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, is expected to use his long-awaited Budget in February to set aside funding for the much-vaunted £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme.
Further evidence of the extent to which the Power Up The North campaign has galvanised Westminster and Whiterhall, the very fact that the Government is on the brink of prioritising improved rail links between the North’s key cities over a second Crossrail line in London also shows how much has changed since Chris Grayling left the Department for Transport as Ministers finally start to make up for lost time.