Jake Berry stays on as Northern Powerhouse Minister and will now attend Cabinet, but what does that mean for the project?

As Boris Johnson’s sweeping reshuffle came to an end we found out this morning that Jake Berry will stay on as the Northern Powerhouse Minister and will now attend Cabinet, as first revealed by The Yorkshire Post.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry
Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry

He reportedly waited to decide whether he would continue in the role after visiting Number 10 last night, suggesting that he might have been expecting a bigger job.

But the choice to keep him in post and to elevate the position by giving him a voice at the Cabinet table is undoubtedly a positive step for the Northern Powerhouse.

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Attending Cabinet

Firstly, it’s important to note the distinction between attending Cabinet as a minister and being a Cabinet Minister.

The Northern Powerhouse brief is not its own department with its own Secretary of State, as The Yorkshire Post believes it should be.

Instead it is contained within the Communities Department and Jake Berry will report to Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick.

But the addition of attending Cabinet is still a significant step as it will give the Northern Powerhouse higher status and will mean Mr Berry is included in those high-level meetings about the future of the country.

Jake Berry

As a loyal ally of Mr Johnson, Mr Berry might have been hoping for a promotion as the new Prime Minister entered Number 10.

But by keeping him in post, the relatively new Northern Powerhouse brief retains a champion who understands what is required to move it forward.

He is also a northerner himself, having grown up in Liverpool, and he has the ear and the trust of the new PM.

So although he may be disappointed, northern voters should not be.

Investment

In terms of policy, Mr Berry told The Yorkshire Post during the Tory leadership race that Treasury rules should be changed to release more cash for northern projects that currently fall foul of the department’s strict value for money tests.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Johnson told this newspaper that he agreed with him.

As well as this, the new Chancellor Sajid Javid has said he wants to funnel cash to the North, via a £1bn infrastructure investment fund.

Taking all of this together, there is reason to hope that the new Government could achieve what many politicians say they will do but never really manage - level the playing field and give the North the recognition and support it needs to flourish.