Boris Johnson ally quits government after turning down Foreign Office job

Posted On: 
14th February 2020

A key ally of Boris Johnson has quit the Government after turning down a new job in the reshuffle.

Jake Berry had been Northern Powerhouse minister.
PA Images

The Prime Minister told Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry that he would be moving to a post in the Foreign Office.

But Mr Berry, who has three young children, said he could not accept a role which "would have required substantial amounts of foreign travel".

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His decision is a major blow for Mr Johnson, for whom the former minister - who also attended Cabinet - has been a strong backer.

Announcing his decision on Twitter, the Rossendale and Darwen MP said: "It has been the greatest privilege of my life to fight for the North in Westminster. For the last two and a half years I have helped move the from concept to Cabinet table.

"I firmly believe that the Northern Powerhouse was the foundation stone of the blue wall that delivered a Conservative majority Government.

"I chose to leave Government after being offered another role that would have required substantial amounts of foreign travel. I have 3 children under 3 - the youngest of whom is less than a week old. Family will always come first and I felt unable to accept the offer.

"I will continue to support the Government and the Prime Minster from the back benches and will keep actively campaigning for my constituents in Rossendale and Darwen."

Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: "As well as acting as a champion of devolution, [Jake Berry] spoke up for projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail at the Cabinet table, standing up for his fellow northerners - an ally to business and civic leaders who worked incredibly hard in his brief."

Mr Berry's departure was confirmed as the PM continued his government shake-up.

In a surprise move, James Cleverly was axed as Conservative Party chairman, and will now be joint-minister of state in the Foreign Office and Department for International Development.

He tweeted: "It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be Chairman of , especially during a general election. The move to the and is exciting beyond belief and gives me a chance to work in an area of government I’m really passionate about."

In other significant changes, Penny Mordaunt becomes paymaster general just six months after being sacked as Defence Secretary, while James Brokenshire, who was also axed from the Cabinet last summer, becomes a Home Office minister.