Northern Powerhouse minister resigns from government

Andrew Percy, former Northern Powerhouse minister.

Andrew Percy, the Northern Powerhouse minister, has resigned from the government.

In a post on social media, the MP for Brigg and Goole said he had been offered the role again following last week’s general election, but had decided instead to “pursue other challenges”. 

Percy said: “It was a privilege to be asked to continue serving in my role in government as a minister, but I have reluctantly decided to step down and leave the government. I thank the prime minister for offering me this role again but I have decided to pursue other challenges. She continues to enjoy my full support from the back benches.”

Percy was handed the job in Theresa May’s first cabinet reshuffle last July. He took over from James Wharton, who was the first MP to take the role and who lost his seat in Stockton South last week. Percy has been MP for his Yorkshire constituency for seven years and increased his majority last Thursday. 

Following his appointment today as a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, confirmed that he will replace Percy as the minister for the Northern Powerhouse.

Reacting to Percy’s resignation, Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said despite the ministerial merry-go-round, “the weight of the north’s £300bn economy continues to gather momentum despite Westminster whims”. “In the north, the votes in 2015, 2016 and 2017 have one thing in common: northerners have each time snubbed the ‘Westminster option’. Miliband, Remain and now Theresa May were rejected by Northern voters who want to see real change,” said Cox.

“Now more than ever, we need a council of the north in a new federal UK, able to make vital decisions for itself such as on international trade and economic development, and to give a voice to the north during Brexit negotiations,” Cox said.

The government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse project has been in question since its architect George Osborne left government following the result of the EU referendum and that commitment has been further questioned since Theresa May became prime minister and has been cast into fresh doubt with last week’s hung parliament general election result.

The election of new metro mayors for the north should give extra impetus to the Northern Powerhouse and Ed Cox’s calls for a council of the north may yet come to pass. Time will tell in the weeks and months ahead.

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