Gove pledges to bring top jobs to North of England

Michael Gove today pledged to pursue devolution for northern cities if he wins the race to become the next Tory Party leader.

Michael Gove leaves his home in London, as he prepared to set out his case for becoming prime minister. Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

There has been concern that deals already signed off by the Chancellor, or those in the pipeline, could fall by the wayside if Brexit negotiations bulldoze other Government business in the coming months.

However Mr Gove sought to reassure Conservative party members in Yorkshire that he is committed to completing the work set in motion by George Osborne to hand over more control to Sheffield and eventually other parts of the region.

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As he made his pitch to the party to become its next leader on Friday, Mr Gove said he would not only oversee the devolution of governance to the North but ensure more civil service jobs are transferred from the capital.

His speech came just 24 hours after he was accused of political treachery for forcing former ally Boris Johnson to give up his leadership race and openly criticising his lack of ability,

Mr Gove told The Yorkshire Post: “One of the things about the referendum campaign is that it shows an overwhelming number of people in the North of England have profound concerns that growing prosperity has not reached them.

“So the Northern Powerhouse agenda is absolutely right and English devolution is absolutely right. I would do everything possible as Prime Minister to ensure that not just the leaders of Government are pulled to help the North but also that Government itself moves.

“One of the things I’m about is the restructuring of Government and Whitehall.

“One of the things I’m driving at the Ministry of Justice is the devolution not just of powers but the movement of jobs and investment from London to the North.”

Earlier this year the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was heavily criticsed by a committee of MPs for closing down its Sheffield office with the loss of almost 250 senior civil service jobs.

At his leadership launch Mr Gove’s campaign manager, the Skills Minister Nick Boles MP, sat in the front row, having just 48 hours ago publicly declared he was backing Boris Johnson.

His other key supporter, education secretary Nicky Morgan, was attending commemorations for the Somme.

It is understood many Conservatives are still stunned that Mr Gove dramatically declared Boris Johnson unfit to be Prime Minister before deciding to run himself.

Calls were growing last night for Mr Gove to stand aside so Theresa May can emerge as a unity candidate to negotiate leaving the EU, including from former Chancellor Ken Clarke MP.

Mr Gove maintained the best person to lead Britain out of the European Union is “someone who argued to get Britain out of the European Union”.

Conservative MPs will begin voting for their preferred candidate from a choice of five on Tuesday and subsequent votes take place within days until the list is whittled down to two candidates.