Osborne's former right hand man moves to BlackRock

BlackRock sign Image copyright Getty Images

A very American-sounding "internal communication" has this morning landed in the in-boxes of employees of one of the world's largest fund managers, BlackRock.

It announces that one Rupert Harrison - the former chief of staff to the chancellor - is joining the business, as chief macro-strategist for multi-asset funds that invest in equities, bonds and cash.

"Rupert's appointment shows BlackRock's continued commitment to attracting people from a broad range of backgrounds to ensure we have the expertise, knowledge, and cultural perspective to provide solutions for the diverse needs of our clients," the message says.

Mr Harrison was often known as the "real chancellor" in government circles given his closeness to the actual chancellor, his role formulating policy and his ability to brief ministers and journalists on the various schemes being implemented by the Treasury.

Mr Harrison, for example, was talking privately about selling the initial chunk of the government's stake in RBS at a loss as much as a year ago.

Yesterday, George Osborne confirmed that would indeed be the government's approach.

Real influence

Mr Harrison was also someone quickly persuaded that the Conservative's 2010 position on airport expansion in the south-east of England - ie there wouldn't be a third runway at Heathrow - was not sustainable.

David Cameron, with enthusiastic backing from Mr Osborne, subsequently set up the Airports Commission to look at reversing the policy. It will report in the next few weeks, having already proposed that there should be an increase in airport capacity around London.

I am told that at Mr Harrison's recent leaving do, George Osborne joked that it had been an honour to serve in Mr Harrison's Treasury.

Will Mr Harrison one day return to politics, and realise a long-held ambition to become an MP?

Whatever he decides, it seems it will be a long process. Those close to Mr Harrison say he wants to commit to his new life in the private sector for at least a decade before he makes any decisions on where next.

But, interestingly, Mr Harrison did decide against joining a hedge fund for his first major job in the private sector - aware that reputationally it might not be the most advisable, given the short term and controversial nature of many of them.

His job at BlackRock will focus on considering long-term investment strategies and economic trends across the globe.

So, possibly not for the general election in 2020, but by 2025, maybe Rupert Harrison MP will be on the cards.

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