CBI and business backs new remit for Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry as Theresa May acts now

THERESA May has extended the powers of Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry – just weeks before she steps down.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry has been given an extended remit.

The move follows growing criticism that she allowed her aides to sideline the Northern Powerhouse agenda when she became Prime Minister nearly three years ago.

It will see Mr Berry – currently part of the Ministry of Housing team – also serve as a junior minister at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy in order to help co-ordinate economic policy.

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The PM has also been struggling to fill a raft of Ministerial vacancies following an unprecedented number of resignations due to Brexit.

And though Downing Street insists the move is proof of the Government’s commitment to the North, the new role does not entitle the Northern Powerhouse Minister to attend the Cabinet – a call previously made by The Yorkshire Post.

Mr Berry, who is backing his mentor Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership contest, was appointed to the Northern Powerhouse role after the June 2017 election.

The MP for the Lancashire seat of Rossendale and Darwen, he is also the Minister for High Streets – and a longstanding opponent of the One Yorkshire devolution campaign.

“I’m delighted to accept this new appointment and I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for the unwavering support she has given to the Northern Powerhouse,” said Mr Berry.

“We are on the cusp of a new era for the North with our modern Industrial Strategy boosting economic growth, supporting advanced manufacturing and creating the right economic conditions to make the Northern Powerhouse one of the most competitive, business-friendly regions not just in the UK but in the world.”

Business leaders backed the appointment in principle, with CBI regional director Beckie Hart saying: “This new position will be welcomed by businesses, recognising the need for a strong advocate for the region. It is an important first step towards taking a much more joined up approach across departments and embedding the Industrial Strategy in all parts of the Government’s work.”