The so-called ‘Minister for the Northern Powerhouse’ failed to show up for a debate on the steel industry less than 24 hours before Redcar steelworks was effectively shut down — putting 3,000 northern jobs in peril.
In addition to his ministerial portfolio, James Wharton is a local MP who promised to “make Teeside central to the Northern Powerhouse”.
Challenged for apparently going AWOL yesterday he snapped, accusing those present in the Commons chamber — constituency MPs fighting for the livelihoods of their constituents — of “showboating”.
So what does “doing things” involve? This blog rang the DCLG press office to find out. In what may not be a coincidence the minister broke his Twitter silence moments afterwards (and we are still to get official word from the department).
As far as Scrapbook can establish, this was a phone call and not a meeting with management. So why couldn’t the ‘Northern Powerhouse minister’ attend a debate vital to northern industry — not to mention his own bloody constituents?
Production at Redcar steelworks isn’t the only thing to have been “paused” in 2015. When (manifesto pledged) electrification of northern railways was dumped, Wharton went into hiding from the media.