THE Northern Powerhouse minister has insisted both candidates to be the next prime minister would ensure the Tory flagship scheme is not derailed by Brexit.

Pro-Leave MP James Wharton has also dismissed suggestions he would be glad to see the back of David Cameron, after the Prime Minister told The Northern Echo last month that exiting the EU would be disastrous for the Northern Powerhouse plan.

The Conservative MP for Stockton South made the comments during a ministerial visit to York, as independent think tank ResPublica launched a manifesto, supported by Mr Wharton, calling for a Council of the North to be established to counter London-centric policy making.

ResPublica said the ambition of the Northern Powerhouse could fail without radical changes in the administration of matters from education to transport.

After speaking to traders in the Bishopthorpe Road area of the city which won Britain’s best high street title last year, Mr Wharton said he believed the North-East and Yorkshire would receive “at least as much, if not more” economic funding following the UK’s departure from the EU, despite fears that opportunities for millions of pounds of investment had been lost with the vote.

He said Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom had responded positively to questions he had asked them about key upcoming projects in the North, which he said were too commercially sensitive to reveal.

Mr Wharton, who declined to say which candidate he would support, said he was confident both would add to the foundations that had been laid over the past year to regenerate Yorkshire and the North-East.

He said: “I have received the reassurances I needed to feel comfortable with both candidates. As to what policies they will set out in the campaign in the coming weeks and months we will have to wait and see.”

The Conservative MP said while he felt David Cameron could have been a “great prime minister for much longer”, he disagreed with his retiring leader over the importance of the EU to the Northern Powerhouse.

He said leaving the process of reshaping the North’s position in the world economy would continue unabated.