Chancellor to miss Aberdeen cabinet meeting ahead of Budget

Chancellor George Osborne visits the Montrose platform last year
Chancellor George Osborne visits the Montrose platform

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to miss the UK Cabinet’s first-ever meeting in the north-east next week because of a diary clash.

Coalition ministers are due to travel up from London for a meeting in Aberdeen on Monday, as they try to demonstrate their commitment to Scotland in the run-up to the independence vote.

However, the Press and Journal has learned that Mr Osborne will not be coming to the Granite City because he is due to be travelling back from Sydney in Australia.

The chancellor and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney will spend the weekend Down Under at a G20 summit of the world’s leading finance ministers and central bankers.

A Treasury source confirmed last night that Mr Osborne was not expected to be back in time to make the trip to Aberdeen on Monday.

The date and location of the G20 event were announced almost a year ago, last March, meaning the arrangements for the Aberdeen meeting were agreed with the knowledge that Mr Osborne would not attend.

The Conservative minister infuriated North Sea oil and gas leaders with his shock £10billion Budget tax raid on producers in 2011, but has since made efforts to repair the damage, including making a speech in Aberdeen during last September’s Offshore Europe conference.

Monday’s meeting, which is still to be officially confirmed by the UK Government, will be only the third time a prime minister has convened the Cabinet north of the border. The full Cabinet met for the first time outside London or Chequers at Inverness Town House on September 7, 1921.

Lloyd George was on holiday at Gairloch in Wester Ross when British-Irish relations reached a crisis point, prompting him to call the Cabinet at the Highland capital. The next meeting away was at the Grand Hotel in Brighton on October 4, 1966, as Harold Wilson’s ministers considered a proposal to activate powers to enforce a freeze on prices and incomes.

On Monday, SNP ministers will gather in Portlethen, just a few miles from their coalition counterparts in the city.