Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has landed a bombshell of a new job - as it was announced today he will become the new editor of London’s Evening Standard newspaper.
The paper’s proprietor Evgeny Lebedev announced the news on Twitter on Friday morning.
Lebedev said Osborne was an editor whose “political viewpoint - socially liberal and economically pragmatic - closely matches that of many of our readers”.
The Tatton MP, who served as David Cameron’s right-hand-man for six years in government, will continue to sit in the House of Commons, the BBC reported.
Speaking to Standard journalists in their newsroom, Osborne said:
“Growing up as a Londoner, I’ve always known that the Evening Standard is an institution that plays a huge part in the life of the city and its people.
“I am proud to be a Conservative MP, but as editor and leader of a team of dedicated and independent journalists, our only interest will be to give a voice to all Londoners.
“We will judge what the government, London’s politicians and the political parties do against this simple test: is it good for our readers and good for London? If it is, we’ll support them; if it isn’t we’ll be quick to say so.”
But news of his appointment shocked many.
It also sparked an inevitable, furious ribbing of his career so far on Twitter.
And this gem of a nib was dug up from the Standard yesterday.
ITV’s Political Editor Robert Peston even speculated the Conservative Party would force Osborne to resign as an MP because of his new job.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reacted to Osborne’s announcement by telling the Islington Tribune it was “a joke”.
He said: “This is taking multi-tasking to a whole new level. Surely a newspaper like the Evening Standard deserves a full time editor.
“Never mind one who is so obviously biased against the voting intentions of the vast majority of Londoners.”
A spokesperson for Corbyn later said: “George Osborne’s appointment as editor of the Evening Standard is yet another example of the establishment revolving door, a closely knit clique who are holding back the British people.
“The appointment makes a mockery of the independence of the media.
“It takes multitasking to a new level and is an insult to the electors he is supposed to serve. We are looking forward to an early by-election so the people of Tatton are properly served in parliament.”
While Wes Streeting, who chairs the group of Labour MPs in London, also released a statement saying Osborne’s appointment was “bad news for the reputation of politics, journalism and the relationship between the two”.
“The conflict of interest is best exemplified by politicians queuing up to congratulate George Osborne on his new role. In no way is this double-jobbing acceptable.
“At risk of never receiving favourable coverage in the Standard again, this is a real disservice to Tatton and to professional journalism.
“He simply cannot continue as an MP while editing a daily newspaper and his appointment raises serious doubts about whether London’s Labour Mayor, MPs and councils will receive fair coverage under such an obviously partisan editor.”
LSE media professor Charlie Beckett told The Huffington Post UK that the announcement brings with it many different problems, but also opportunities for the Standard.
He said: “I can see all sorts of potential clashes of interest and sheer workload problems but newsrooms already have to deal with interfering proprietors and political pressures.
“The Standard is not such a vast daily news operation as it was in the past, so having a clever, well-connected and colourful character as a leader might galvanise the brand and even motivate the journalists once a practical way of working beds in.”
Osborne will replace the Standard editor, Sarah Sands, who was named in January as the new editor of the BBC’s flagship Today programme.
Osborne already earns £76,011 a year as an MP. According to the Register of Member’s Interests, he also earned £715,000 for speeches given since 27 September 2016.
And he also receives £162,500 every four months as an advisor to The Blackrock Investment Institute.