Paul Brand: Can Osborne clamp the Boris bus?

Credit: ITV News

If George Osborne wanted to sabotage the wheels on Boris Johnson's battle bus, he was in the right place this morning. Visiting a car clamp factory in Keighley, he was here to warn once again that leaving the EU would tow our economy into recession.

Wearing a fluorescent pair of gloves (all part of Osborne's line in factory fashion wear) he had a go at assembling parts and disassembling the Leave campaign. Just hours before, those same hands had penned a letter to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, accusing them of coming up with an unworkable and uncosted vision of life outside the EU.

But when I asked him if this referendum campaign was becoming less about the future of the country and more about the future of a few ambitious politicians, he denied that it looked like a leadership contest. "Politicians come and go" he said, "It's not about my career, it's about the country's future for decades to come". Well, he couldn't really say anything else, could he?

Osborne: Brexit would hit the north particularly hard Credit: ITV News

So turning to the 'real issue', I asked him exactly what Brexit would mean for Yorkshire and the Humber. Among the expected answers about economic armageddon, he insisted it was the north that would suffer most if we left. "The north of England would be particularly hard hit...if we go back into recession, it's often the north that feels that first." I asked him if a Conservative government would replace EU investment in the north with British funding if we left, but he wasn't making any promises. "The government wouldn't have as much money to invest anywhere in the country because there'd be a big hole in the public finances."

But whatever the Chancellor says in Keighley, he can't reach everyone. Not just because some will already have their hearts set on voting leave, but because our region leans towards Labour more than it leans towards Conservative. Which leaves a gaping space in this campaign for Jeremy Corbyn, if anyone hadn't noticed.