17/03/2017 13:17 GMT | Updated 17/03/2017 13:25 GMT

George Osborne Faces Demands To Quit As MP After Accepting Evening Standard Editor Job

Jeremy Corbyn calls for by-election in Tatton.


George Osborne is facing calls to quit as an MP after he was announced as the new editor of the Evening Standard.

The former chancellor has insisted he will continue to serve as MP for Tatton alongside his new job in London - as parliament was where the country’s “future is debated”.

The news of the former Conservative chancellor’s appointment was greeted with shock by politicians and journalists.

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said Osborne’s appointment was “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,” he added.

Speaking to London Live, the TV station owned by Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, Osborne said said he was “proud” to represent his constituency.

“This paper is edited primarily in the morning, parliament votes the afternoon,” he said, explaining how he could do both jobs.

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow culture secretary said he wished Osborne “all the best as he embarks on his new career in journalism”.

But added: “I know from conversations with journalists that the long hours and early starts that editing a newspaper like the Evening Standard requires are incompatible with the demands placed on hard-working constituency MPs. 

“With that I mind I assume the former Chancellor will give up his seat in Parliament in due course and trigger a by-election, possibly to coincide with the local and mayoral elections being held in May.”

Martin Bell, the former journalist who served as MP for Tatton before Osborne won the seat in 2001 told BBC Newsnight: “Osborne must call a by-election and let the people decide if they are happy with this.”

Labour MP Wes Streeting said Osborne “simply cannot continue as an MP while editing a daily newspaper”.

He added: “His appointment raises serious doubts about whether London’s Labour Mayor, MPs and councils will receive fair coverage under such an obviously partisan editor.” 

And Labour MP Toby Perkins said it looked like Osborne did not “give a shit” about any accusations of a conflict of interest.

Osborne addressed Evening Standard staff in their west London HQ on Monday afternoon. 

In a statement, he said: “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.

“So much is now at stake about the future of our country and its capital city. I will remain in Parliament, where that future is debated. I was elected by my constituents in Tatton to serve them and I intend to fulfil that promise.

“I remain passionate about the Northern Powerhouse and will continue to promote that cause. Right from the first speech I gave about the North of England, I’ve said that London needs a successful north and the north benefits from its links to a global city like London. It’s not a zero-sum game, but quite the opposite.”

Osborne holds Tatton with a 18,241 majority over Labour. The seat is set to be abolished in 2020 due to boundary changes, however he has said “whatever the final boundaries, I look forward to putting myself forward to voters for re-election for Cheshire in 2020”.