London, Oxford and Cambridge should be the focus for Britain’s population growth – at the expense of poorer towns in the north – according to a report to be published today.

The study by the Policy Exchange, which is likely to prove controversial, suggests there is room for 500,000 more people on former industrial land in London. And it calls for a dramatic expansion of the two Oxbridge towns to replicate Liverpool and Manchester’s growth in the 19th century.

The report, Cities Unlimited, predicts a life on benefits for more people in so-called regeneration towns in the north who would be better migrating to the 'economic powerhouses' of the south-east.

The study comes as the Conservative party – which has close links with Policy Exchange – seeks to make inroads in the north, where it has had few MPs in recent years.

Financial Times