The occasional MP for Tatton and former chancellor George Osborne has shocked Westminster with the news that he is to become the next editor of the Evening Standard.
He’s boasted of a “jobs miracle” – and now has one of his own. The announcement brings his job count up to six. He is also advising investment firm Black Rock, doing private speaking engagements, working on projects as a fellow at the McCain Institute, chairing the Northern Powerhouse project, and being MP for Tatton.
The news was announced by the paper’s owner Evgeny Lebedev on Twitter, with this statement:
“Thrilled to announce the new editor of the Evening Standard is George Osborne. I am proud to have an editor of such substance, who reinforces The Standard’s standing and influence in London, and whose political viewpoint – socially liberal and economically pragmatic – closely matches that of many of our readers. George is London through and through and I am confident he is the right person to build on the fantastic legacy of Sarah Sands.”
Note the praise for the “economically pragmatic” Austerity Chancellor who had to keep changing his own deficit targets, and the “London through and through” description of a Cheshire MP.
Osborne commented that he will remain an MP: “I was elected by my constituents in Tatton to serve them and I intend to fulfil that promise”, and also insisted that he would hold the government to account: “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.”
He added that he remains “passionate about the Northern Powerhouse and will continue to promote that cause”.
On Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn condemned Osborne’s “multitasking”:
It’s taking multitasking to an extreme level – what a joke https://t.co/m4a6GWwVnJ
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 17, 2017
In a statement, he added that it was an example of the “establishment revolving door, a closely knit clique who are holding back the British people” and that it made “a mockery of the independence of the media”.
The Evening Standard made a statement, denying it was ludicrous for a Cheshire politician masterminding the Northern Powerhouse project to edit a London paper:
“The Standard’s schedule will enable Mr Osborne to edit the paper and continue to fulfil his other commitments, including as an MP; giving him the time to vote and contribute in Parliament in the afternoon after the paper has gone to print, and be in his constituency. He will edit the paper an average of four days a week.”
The Evening Standard, which has long had a rightward streak, became notably more right-wing under the editorship of Sarah Sands, who is leaving to become an editor on the Today programme. Its agenda was clear in its coverage of the London mayoral election last year, where it championed Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith and defended the now notorious dogwhistle racial messaging in his campaign literature.
Osborne’s editorship now makes the Standard’s politics clear.
The ex-chancellor has some journalistic experience – but unfortunately, it is mainly in rejection. In the early Nineties, before he went into politics, he was rejected by both the Times graduate scheme and The Economist, so he did a bit of freelance work for the Telegraph‘s diary column before going to work as a Tory researcher.
Downing Street is thought to have had no idea this appointment was coming – and the timing will annoy Theresa May, who is giving a speech to the party’s spring forum. Your mole has tried to speak to the local Conservative Association in Tatton, which is mysteriously locked down in a two-hour meeting.