Boris Johnson has chosen Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to promote the Northern Powerhouse at Cabinet level after the resignation of the Minister dedicated to the project.
Mr Shapps, the MP for Welwyn Hatfield in Hertfordshire, said he was “proud” to be asked to ensure the Cabinet delivers on the Prime Minister’s promise to “level up” the country as part of the Northern Powerhouse agenda introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne.
He has taken on the role after the resignation of Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry during the PM’s reshuffle this week.
Mr Berry, who has held the role for two-and-a-half years and was last summer promoted to a role attending Cabinet, refused to accept a new job in the Foreign Office “that would have required substantial amounts of foreign travel” because he has three young children.
Middlesbrough MP Simon Clarke, the former Exchequer Secretary at the Treasury, will take on Mr Berry’s role in promoting the Government’s “levelling up” agenda and negotiating devolution deals with local leaders.He will not be attending Cabinet as part of his role as Mr Berry did.
Mr Shapps said in a statement that he would “ensure the whole Cabinet delivers on this plan”, adding: “I will work tirelessly to achieve the ambitious results the North deserves”.
He said: “Transport has a fundamental role to play. We will take forward critical infrastructure projects like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail which will improve connections between Northern towns and cities.
"We are also delivering radical improvements to local transport networks that passengers depend on every day, including thousands of new buses and more frequent services across the whole country.
“But levelling up is not just about transport – it’s about ensuring everyone has equal access to high-quality education and skilled jobs. It’s about acknowledging the imbalance that exists across the country and putting a plan to fix it at the front and centre of government’s actions.
“The North of England invented the railways, revolutionised Britain’s industry and transformed our economy. Now it’s time to build on the progress we’ve already made, and give back to the North the benefits they brought the rest of Britain.”
No details have yet been released about who will be the dedicated Minister for the HS2 high speed rail project after Mr Johnson announced the role this week.