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Jeremy Corbyn calls for George Osborne to face the voters

The former Chancellor will be the future Evening Standard editor, and Labour is not happy. 

George Osborne, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the MP for Tatton, and BlackRock adviser, has found yet another job - editor of the London Evening Standard.

After news of his appointment broke earlier today, many of his fellow MPs, especially within Labour, have started calling for a by-election in his constituency. Osborne has declared that he will not step down as an MP.

Jeremy Corbyn led the Labour outcry, saying Osborne’s appointment was a “joke” and calling for an immediate by-election in Tatton. "The appointment makes a mockery of the independence of the media," the leader of the opposition said. "It takes multitasking to a new level and is an insult to the electors he is supposed to serve."

Just like the leader of the opposition’s Islington North seat, Osborne’s is set to be abolished in the next election, under the new parliamentary constituency boundaries rule.

Clive Lewis MP tweeted that Osborne’s appointment is a conflict of interest and that he will write to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, as well as the Commons’ Speaker John Bercow, and Theresa May.

Toby Perkins, the Labour MP for Chesterfield, put the question more bluntly when he wondered whether George Osborne "gives a shit":

Green MP Caroline Lucas is calling for Osborne to step down as an MP, too. “Osborne's appointment as Editor of the Standard raises very serious questions about both his own ability to continue as an MP and the newspaper's impartiality”, she wrote in a statement. “By taking this job George Osborne has shown contempt for his constituents.”

She has put a parliamentary question into whether “arrangements will be put in place by 10 Downing Street to ensure that the Editor of the London Evening Standard is not able to misuse his position as a member of the Privy Council to generate news stories based on confidential government briefings or advance notice of any prime ministerial decision to commit HM Armed Forces in enemy action.”

But some Labour MPs decided to poke fun at Osborne’s (lack of) journalism experience. Apart from a few freelance pieces, he has never held a job as a journalist, and was rejected from The Times graduate scheme and from an interview at The Economist.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who used to bear the brunt of Osborne's attacks before he was sacked by Theresa May, said he was ready to give him a chance, and even hoped to pitch to the new editor:

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, in a majestic peak of his newly found Twitter sassiness, had some personal appointment news, too.

To be fair, Miliband did actually work in the media, as a researcher for Channel 4’s A Week In Politics, before entering actual politics – which makes him a lot more qualified than Osborne for an editor position. Just like any journalist with previous work experience out there.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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