Where is George Osborne now?

Former chancellor says Tories made ‘mistakes’ that led to Brexit vote

George Osborne
Osborne has taken on multiple paid roles with major international firms since he stepped down as an MP last year
(Image credit: Getty Images)

George Osborne has admitted that he and David Cameron's government “got things wrong” in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Speaking on BBC Newsnight, the former chancellor said that during his time in office he had failed to “spot the shift in politics” and made “mistakes”, including setting unrealistic immigration targets.

“That led to a debate about how you might deliver those targets,” he said, adding that his government “didn't make enough of the value of immigration”.

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“I think we were wrong to play into the debate that everything that Brussels did was a challenge and a battle,” Osborne told the current affairs show's host, Evan Davis. “We were too late in the day trying to explain some of the benefits of European Union membership.”

The former Tory MP has previously said that he was “not keen” on holding a vote on Britain’s EU membership and only went along with it to support Cameron, says the BBC.

During his Newsnight appearance, Osborne was taken to task by fellow guest and Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, who accused him of “despicable” treatment of the country's poorest people with his implementation of austerity.

Osborne stood down as chancellor hours after Cameron departed No. 10 Downing Street. But what has he been doing since he left office?

Unlike Cameron, who quit politics shortly after the Brexit vote, Osborne remained an MP for around a year, serving the constituency of Tatton.

During that time, the former chancellor came under scrutiny for his paid work outside Parliament, especially lucrative speaking engagements. In the autumn of 2016, he earned more than £500,000 for speeches in the US to Wall Street banks and financial firms, including £85,000 from Citibank for two speeches.

After stepping down as an MP in mid-2017, Osborne took on multiple paid roles with major international firms.

These included his appointment as editor of the London Evening Standard, despite having “almost no experience working in journalism”, Esquire says.

As the magazine notes, “the Evening Standard has been a potent means of revenge” for Osborne against Theresa May, who kicked him out of her government immediately after becoming prime minister.

“For non-Tory Remainers, Osborne’s editorship has provided a delightful daily thrill as he lobs one grenade after another at May in revenge for her firing him,” adds Toynbee in an editorial in The Guardian.

Alongside his newspaper role, Osborne is an adviser to US fund manager BlackRock, the chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a visiting fellow at Stanford University in California, and is listed as a speaker at elite speakers’ agency Washington Speakers Bureau.

Last year The Guardian reported that Osborne was being paid around £650,000 a year to work four days a month at BlackRock - equivalent to more than £13,000 a day.

He has also become chair of a recently formed partners council overseeing European holding company Exor, according to The Times.

Exor is the listed holding company of Italy’s wealthy Agnelli family, which owns the professional Italian football club Juventus and carmakers Fiat and Ferrari, adds Politico.

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