O'Brien to spearhead levelling up programme

A former Treasury aide and now Conservative MP is to spearhead the Government’s levelling up programme amid concern it is failing to make an impact in the red wall constituencies won by the Tories in the last election.

Neil O’Brien, a former special adviser to chancellor George Osborne and Prime Minister Theresa May, has been asked by Boris Johnson to oversee the levelling up programme.

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The programme's mission to reduce regional inequalities is regarded as essential for a Tory win in the next General Election.

Whitehall insiders have said the programme is confused and has been described as a 'slogan without a purpose'.

Mr O’Brien has been MP for the safe Conservative seat of Harborough in Leicestershire since 2017 and grew up in Huddersfield.

He is a former director of the right-of-centre think-tank Policy Exchange.

Mr O’Brien will work with the new Downing Street delivery unit and Cabinet Office.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in last autumn’s Spending Review a £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund for local investment projects.

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