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17 March 2017

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. 

By Pauline Bock

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.

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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.