A SAT NAV will tell you that Sunderland and Newcastle are only 14 miles apart.

Many people born or brought up in those cities will insist that they are in fact worlds apart.

The minister who has the job of bringing jobs and better infrastructure to the north has confused the Wear with the Tyne during an interview with Sunderland Echo. His spin doctors insisted that it was a slip of the tongue.

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It was an embarrassing gaffe by Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry but was it the end of the world? After all, David Bowie made the same mistake when his first words to the crowd at his 1987 gig inside Roker Park, Sunderland were: “Good evening, Newcastle.”

Well, for a start Mr Bowie’s star power meant he could get away with pretty much anything in front of his North-East fans, which isn’t something you could say about Mr Berry.

The Lancashire MP, who succeeded Stockton South’s James Wharton as Powerhouse Minister, is relatively unknown in our region. Dropping this clanger will have done nothing to reinforce his credibility or dispel fears that the Powerhouse project is focussed on Manchester and the North West rather than areas around the Tyne, Wear and Tees. 

The problem we have with Mr Berry’s blunder is it feeds a growing perception that this Government doesn’t properly understand or care about the North-East.

It comes less than a week after the Department for Communities advertised a £58,000 London-based job to lead Tees Valley regeneration with a warning to applicants that the role “can include occasional trips to Tees Valley.”

And the monstrous imbalance between the billions splurged on improvements London's roads and railways compared to those across the north fuels concerns that the Government regards people 'up north' as second class citizens. 

Theresa May’s cabinet is chock full of MPs whose constituencies are in London and the Home Counties. The voice of the South is heard loud and clear in Westminster. If the Northern Powerhouse minister confuses Sunderland with Newcastle then how can we feel confident that our interests are being taken seriously inside No.10?