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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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Why Angela Merkel's comments about the UK and US shouldn't be given too much weight

The Chancellor's comments are aimed at a domestic and European audience, and she won't be abandoning Anglo-German relationships just yet.

Angela Merkel’s latest remarks do not seem well-judged but should not be given undue significance. Speaking as part of a rally in Munich for her sister party, the CSU, the German Chancellor claimed “we Europeans must really take our own fate into our hands”.

The comments should be read in the context of September's German elections and Merkel’s determination to restrain the fortune of her main political rival, Martin Schulz – obviously a strong Europhile and a committed Trump critic. Sigmar Gabriel - previously seen as a candidate to lead the left-wing SPD - has for some time been pressing for Germany and Europe to have “enough self-confidence” to stand up to Trump. He called for a “self-confident position, not just on behalf of us Germans but all Europeans”. Merkel is in part responding to this pressure.

Her words were well received by her audience. The beer hall crowd erupted into sustained applause. But taking an implicit pop at Donald Trump is hardly likely to be a divisive tactic at such a gathering. Criticising the UK post-Brexit and the US under Trump is the sort of virtue signalling guaranteed to ensure a good clap.

It’s not clear that the comments represent that much of a new departure, as she herself has since claimed. She said something similar earlier this year. In January, after the publication of Donald Trump’s interview with The Times and Bild, she said that “we Europeans have our fate in our own hands”.

At one level what Merkel said is something of a truism: in two year’s time Britain will no longer be directly deciding the fate of the EU. In future no British Prime Minister will attend the European Council, and British MEPs will leave the Parliament at the next round of European elections in 2019. Yet Merkel’s words “we Europeans”, conflate Europe and the EU, something she has previously rejected. Back in July last year, at a joint press conference with Theresa May, she said: “the UK after all remains part of Europe, if not of the Union”.

At the same press conference, Merkel also confirmed that the EU and the UK would need to continue to work together. At that time she even used the first person plural to include Britain, saying “we have certain missions also to fulfil with the rest of the world” – there the ‘we’ meant Britain and the EU, now the 'we' excludes Britain.

Her comments surely also mark a frustration born of difficulties at the G7 summit over climate change, but Britain and Germany agreed at the meeting in Sicily on the Paris Accord. More broadly, the next few months will be crucial for determining the future relationship between Britain and the EU. There will be many difficult negotiations ahead.

Merkel is widely expected to remain the German Chancellor after this autumn’s election. As the single most powerful individual in the EU27, she is the most crucial person in determining future relations between the UK and the EU. Indeed, to some extent, it was her intransigence during Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’ which precipitated Brexit itself. She also needs to watch with care growing irritation across the EU at the (perceived) extent of German influence and control over the institutions and direction of the European project. Recent reports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which suggested a Merkel plan for Jens Weidmann of the Bundesbank to succeed Mario Draghi at the ECB have not gone down well across southern Europe. For those critics, the hands controlling the fate of Europe are Merkel’s.

Brexit remains a crucial challenge for the EU. How the issue is handled will shape the future of the Union. Many across Europe’s capitals are worried that Brussels risks driving Britain further away than Brexit will require; they are worried lest the Channel becomes metaphorically wider and Britain turns its back on the continent. On the UK side, Theresa May has accepted the EU, and particularly Merkel’s, insistence, that there can be no cherry picking, and therefore she has committed to leaving the single market as well as the EU. May has offered a “deep and special” partnership and a comprehensive free trading arrangement. Merkel should welcome Britain’s clarity. She must work with new French President Emmanuel Macron and others to lead the EU towards a new relationship with Britain – a close partnership which protects free trade, security and the other forms of cooperation which benefit all Europeans.

Henry Newman is the director of Open Europe. He tweets @henrynewman.

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