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Ex-Chancellor facing calls to quit seat

Osborne’s new role may see change to MPs’ jobs

George OsborneFormer Chancellor George Osborne’s appointment as editor of the London Evening Standard could prompt a change in the rules on MPs taking second jobs, the chief standards watchdog has said.

Despite taking the job full-time Mr Osborne intends to carry on representing his Cheshire constituency of Tatton 190 miles from London.

He has a number of other jobs, including £650,000 a year consultancy role with financial institution BlackRock and £120,000 for his fellowship at the Washington-based McCain Institute think-tank.

Following an outcry among fellow MPs and the public, Lord Bew, chairman of the Committee of Standards in Public Life, said it would discuss whether the rules on second jobs need to be changed.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, who sits on the Committee on Standards, said an additional job “must be something that demonstrably doesn’t prevent you doing your first job as an MP.”

However, former prime minister Tony Blair had no objection to Mr Osborne taking the editorship of a newspaper while sitting as an MP.

“I think it is a great thing for the Evening Standard,” he said. “Why not?”

From Daily Business on Friday:

Osborne hired as editor of Evening Standard

Former chancellor George Osborne has been appointed editor of London newspaper the Evening Standard.

But he is under pressure to resign his seat in the Commons after declaring that he will continue to work as an MP representing the Tatton constituency.

Mr Osborne will replace Sarah Sands who has been appointed the new editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme In January, Mr Osbornewas hired by BlackRock as a four-days-a-month adviser on £650,000 a year.

In a statement, the MP said the Standard “will be fearless as a paper”, fighting for the interests of Londoners.

He added: “This is such an exciting and challenging job and I’m thrilled to take it on. The Evening Standard is a great paper, testimony to the hard work of Sarah Sands and the impressive team, and to the investment of its owners. I look forward to working with, learning from and leading this team of dedicated professionals.

“Growing up as a Londoner, I’ve always known that the Evening Standard is an institution that plays a huge part in the life of the city and its people. Now it is a great honour that I can play a part as leader of the editorial team making the Evening Standard the definitive voice of the world’s most exciting city.”

Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the paper, announced the news on Twitter, saying he was “thrilled” and describing Mr Osbone as “London through and through”.

Some MPs questioned whether he could represent his constituents effectively while editing a daily paper on top of string of lucrative jobs.

There was even speculation that he would use his new post to undermine Prime Minister Theresa May who took the role he most coveted.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, described the appointment as “a joke” and said it was another example of the “establishment revolving door, a closely knit clique who are holding back the British people”.

Mr Corbyn added: “We are looking forward to an early byelection so the people of Tatton are properly served in parliament.”

Downing Street was caught unawares by the announcement, which coincided with the morning briefing to reporters. Theresa May’s spokesman said: “I’m unaware of it.”

The newspaper said its publication schedule “will enable Mr Osborne to edit the paper and continue to fulfil his other commitments, including as an MP”.

As required of MPs, Mr Osborne is seeking the advice of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

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