Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry has quit the Government after turning down a role in the Foreign Office.

At the end of a dramatic day of high-profile resignations and sackings, Mr Berry announced that he would be leaving the post he has held since 2017 after rejecting the move offered by Boris Johnson.

His decision has been seen as a major blow for the Prime Minister, who counted Mr Berry among his closest allies.

However, Mr Johnson acted swiftly by putting Simon Clarke MP into the role and with a clear agenda to drive through devolution for the region.

While the reasons behind Mr Berry’s decision have focused on the unwanted job offer, there has also been speculation he was upset that the Northern Power Minister would, going forward, no longer attend Cabinet meetings.

In a series of Tweets, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, 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 #NorthernPowerhouse from concept to Cabinet table.

“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.”

Mr Berry had played a key role in progressing a number of major projects and initiatives in Cumbria during his tenure as the longest serving Northern Powerhouse Minister.

Working with MPs and local authorities either side for the England-Scotland border, he played an important role in securing the huge £394.5 million Borderlands Growth Deal.

The deal is made up a £265m contribution from the UK Government, along with £85m from the Scottish Government and a further £44.5m from the councils involved, which includes Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council.

It aims to deliver 5,500 job opportunities, attract more than four million extra tourists to the area, improve mobile and digital connections and unlock investment in towns, generating £1.1billion to the Borderlands economy.

Carlisle has pitched itself as the ‘beating heart’ of the Borderlands.

More recently, Mr Berry staged a meeting with council leaders across the county to reignite discussions over a new local government structure and devolution deal.

Devolved powers of decision making on funding, particularly around transport and skills, is seen as crucial to Cumbria’s economic future.

Following the summit last month, it emerged that two unitary councils under an elected mayor of Cumbria was the preferred model – with Mr Berry keen to see a new structure in place by May 2021.

And while details of the local governance split have not been revealed, in-Cumbria understands one authority will span the north, west and east with the other stretching around Morecambe Bay into Lancashire.

in-Cumbria also understands that Mr Berry had expressed reservations over a Morecambe Bay unitary authority – building on the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region initiative – due to it spanning two different counties.

Mr Berry was also a strong campaigner for infrastructure investment in the North.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison hailed Mr Berry’s impact – particularly during his time around the Cabinet table.

“As well as acting as a champion for devolution, he 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,” he said.

The Northern Powerhouse Minister role will now be taken up by Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland who had most recently served as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

He becomes the fourth holder of the Northern Powerhouse Minister position, which was created in a bid to push the North’s socioeconomic ambitions higher up the Government’s agenda.

The changing of the guard came towards the end of a dramatic day for the Government.

Chancellor Sajid Javid sensationally quit just weeks ahead of delivering his first Budget after Boris Johnson ordered him to fire his closest aides. He was swiftly replaced by Mr Javid's former deputy at the Treasury, Rishi Sunak.

Andrea Leadsom was sacked as Business Secretary, and replaced by Alok Sharma, who will also act as minister for the Cop26 UN climate summit.