An MP has launched a stinging attack on a key architect of the Northern Powerhouse for voicing scepticism about pan-Yorkshire devolution, describing him as a dinner circuit “raconteur” who no longer has influence in Westminster.
Keighley MP John Grogan accused former Treasury Minister Lord Jim O’Neill of “grossly underestimating” the power of the Yorkshire brand to bring investment into the region.
Lord O’Neill, a key ally of George Osborne in efforts to empower the North, had criticised supporters of a “One Yorkshire” deal for “repeated focus on the marketing brand of the name Yorkshire” using “chest-beating slogans” rather than making the economic case for getting money and powers from Westminster.
But Labour MP Mr Grogan hit back, telling The Yorkshire Post: “Let’s not forget that Lord O’Neill is a Manchester man at heart.
“He basically does not want a powerful all-Yorkshire mayor who will be up there on a par with London Mayor Sadiq Khan in terms of clout and influence.
“I think he grossly underestimates the power of the Yorkshire brand to leverage in outside investment.
“Jim is a now an entertaining raconteur on the after dinner circuit but his brief period in government is becoming ever more distant .
“He no more has the ear of Ministers than does his political mentor ex-Chancellor George Osborne.”
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake also hit back at Lord O’Neill, saying the One Yorkshire proposal has “moved on considerably” in recent months.
“We have made a submission to government and started negotiations with them based on the significant benefits for the economy of the whole of Yorkshire. Indeed our proposal makes it clear how devolution could double the size of Yorkshire’s economy over the next 30 years.
“I appreciate Lord O’Neill has many ties to Manchester and the North West, but it’s important to understand how this differs from the position here in Yorkshire.”
Lord O’Neill has launched a report showing the introduction of metro mayors in the likes of Manchester and Liverpool has been success since their election a year ago.