George Osborne: Parliament is ‘enhanced’ by me becoming Evening Standard editor

Posted On: 
20th March 2017

George Osborne today claimed Parliament has been "enhanced" by his decision to become editor of the London Evening Standard.

George Osborne addressed MPs following the Urgent Question
Credit: 
PA Images

The former Chancellor spoke during a debate on an Urgent Question tabled by Labour in light of his shock appointment.

Mr Osborne has come in for widespread criticism for taking on the job, on top of several other highly-lucrative roles he has signed up for since being sacked by Theresa May.

George Osborne urged to quit as MP amid backlash over Evening Standard appointment

George Osborne appointed editor of the London Evening Standard

George Osborne to earn £650,000 for one-day-a-week Blackrock job

Labour said his latest job showed that the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments - which polices former ministers' outside interests - was not doing its job properly.

But speaking the Commons, Mr Osborne said: “When I heard that this Urgent Question had been granted I thought that it was important to be here, although unfortunately we’ve missed the deadline for the Evening Standard.

“In my view, this Parliament is enhanced when we have people of different experience taking part in our robust debate and when people who have held senior ministerial office continue to contribute to the decisions we have to make,” he added.

“But I will listen to what my colleagues have to say in this debate, I’m interested to here”.

ACOBA received notice of Mr Osborne’s intention to take up the job from May on 13 March, just four days before he went public with the role, despite protocol indicating that members should seek approval before taking other jobs.

'A MATTER OF GREAT CONCERN'

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne said the appointment “is a matter of great concern” and that Mr Osborne appeared to be in breach of the ministerial code by accepting the role before receiving advice.

“It does a disservice to those members who respect the trust placed in them by their constituents who spend every hour of their day fighting for their constituents interests, and who ensure that proper attention to the representative role of an MP is given as a vocation to public service should require”, he added.

The Government have said the process of advising Mr Osborne will remain confidential until the committee issue their final advice.

Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer said: “It would be wrong for me to prejudice their decision. To say one way or another what my view was or the Government's was - not that we have a view until we receive the independent advice from the independent committee".

His appointment at the Evening Standard adds to a string of outside roles held by the MP for Tatton, who was recently revealed to have taken up a £650,000 job with financial firm Blackrock, for just one day’s work a week.

Mr Gummer accepted however that multiple jobs for MPs was a “matter of concern for the public”.

“It is a matter of ongoing concern to the public, it has been for many years, and it’s something this House will have to grapple with in the years ahead and that is why I welcome the committee looking at it again and no doubt this will be something that will return to the House at a later point.

'TRADITION OF CONTRIBUTING TO NEWSPAPERS'

In response to SNP MP Roger Mullin blasting the move as a “disgraceful shambles”, Mr Gummer compared the move to Nicola Sturgeon’s column in the Daily Record.

“What I would say to the Honourable Gentleman is that there is a tradition of contributing to newspapers,” he said.

A number of Tory MPs leapt to defence of the former Chancellor saying it was up to voters whether Mr Osborne is capable of holding the job alongside his MP duties.

Anna Soubry said: “The ultimate judges on this are our constituents who can boot us out at the ballot box if they don’t like what we do.”

Tom Tugendhat mockingly asked whether MPs must give up jobs and business interests and embrace "monastic simplicity" when they are elected.