GEORGE Osborne has appointed a key adviser tasked with reviving the Government in the North.
Among his other tasks Neil O’Brien will be asked to focus on setting out how the Government can do more for the North, a move many Tories have long called for.
Mr O’Brien is a director at the right of centre think tank Policy Exchange which once caused controversy with a report suggesting ministers should look at whether some northern cities were beyond revival.
Since then, though, the think tank under Mr O’Brien has repeatedly highlighted the cause of the North, with the director most recently warning that Westminster appeared to have given up on the regions in a political North South divide.
In his latest piece, written before his appointment as a special adviser to the Chancellor, he warned that political cynicism in the North was something that all three mainstream parties must tackle if they are to secure electoral victory.
Warning of a sense of abandonment across the North, Mr O’Brien said: “Only now, two years after Labour left office, has its record in the North become clear. Under New Labour, the economic divide was made wider than ever; my home county of Yorkshire went from being 10% behind the UK average in 1997 to being 17% behind.
“The economic output of financial services in London has now overtaken the entire North East’s economy. Not London’s economy as a whole, but just one industry, concentrated in one square mile, has come to generate more wealth than a whole region of 2.6 million people.”
Mr O’Brien’s northern credentials include chairing several events looking at how the Conservatives can win in the North, as well as more general pieces on the wider challenges facing the region.
The special adviser, who was married in Northumberland, will now play a key role in Mr Osborne’s close team.