Earth System models enable a broad range of climate interactions that physical climate models are unable to simulate. However, the extent to which adding Earth System components changes or improves the simulation of the physical climate is not well understood. Here we present a broad multi‐variate evaluation of the North Atlantic climate system in historical simulations of the UK Earth System Model (UKESM1) performed for CMIP6. In particular, we focus on the mean state and the decadal timescale evolution of important variables that span the North Atlantic Climate system. In general, UKESM1 performs well and realistically simulates many aspects of the North Atlantic climate system. Like the physical version of the model, we find that changes in external forcing, and particularly aerosol forcing, are an important driver of multi‐decadal change in UKESM1, especially for Atlantic Multi‐decadal Variability and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. However, many of the shortcomings identified are similar to common biases found in physical climate models, including the physical climate model that underpins UKESM1. For example, the summer jet is too weak and too far poleward; decadal variability in the winter jet is underestimated; intra‐seasonal stratospheric polar vortex variability is poorly represented; and Arctic sea ice is too thick. Forced shortwave changes may be also too strong in UKESM1, which, given the important role of historical aerosol forcing in shaping the evolution of the North Atlantic in UKESM1, motivates further investigation. Therefore, physical model development, alongside Earth System development, remains crucial in order to improve climate simulations.