George Osborne quits as MP to prepare for new role as editor of the London Evening Standard

Former chancellor is 'leaving Westminster for now' - just weeks before the Tories go to the polls

George Osborne
(Image credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

George Osborne is quitting politics, a few weeks before he starts his new job as editor of the London Evening Standard.

The former chancellor will stand down as MP for Tatton at the 8 June General Election, announced yesterday by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Osborne declared his intention to resign in a letter to Conservatives in his constituency, reports the Evening Standard, the newspaper he will take charge of in May.

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He wrote: "I am stepping down from the House of Commons – for now. I will remain active in the debate about our country's future and on the issues I care about, like the success of the Northern Powerhouse.

"I want a Britain that is free, open, diverse and works with other nations to defend our democratic values in the world.

"I will go on fighting for that Britain I love from the editor's chair of a great newspaper. It's still too early to be writing my memoirs."

Osborne, 45, was the youngest MP in the House of Commons in 2001 when he was elected to the seat previously held by independent Martin Bell. He has remained Tatton's MP for 16 years.

He was criticised when it was announced last month that he would become editor of the London evening newspaper in addition to being an MP and doing other part-time paid work.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the appointment made "a mockery of the independence of the media" and added: "It takes multitasking to a new level and is an insult to the electors he is supposed to serve."

Osborne was to work just four days a week on the Standard. Whether he will now go full-time is not known because he has several other commitments.

In addition to the editorship, Osborne is a paid adviser to fund management firm BlackRock and a public speaker for hire with the Washington Speaker's Bureau. He also receives a stipend from the McCain Institute in the US, where he is the current Kissinger Fellow.

Last autumn, it was announced that Tatton is one of several constituencies scheduled to be scrapped under changes to electoral boundaries. The changes were expected to come into force for the anticipated 2020 general election.

George Osborne will undermine trust in press, says Alan Rusbridger

20 March

Role as Evening Standard editor 'throws petrol on the fire of the idea that politicians and journalists are all the same'

Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of The Guardian, has criticised the decision to appoint George Osborne editor of the London Evening Standard while he is still MP for Tatton.

"I do think it crosses a line," Rusbridger said, talking to Jeremy O'Grady, editor-in-chief of The Week, during a debate on trust in the press at The Week Live in central London.

"I really wonder what George Osborne thinks journalism is. Journalists are always the outsiders and politicians always the insiders and the conflicts between the two are so evident. In the end, the pressure on him is going to be unsustainable."

Although he didn't mind "journalists wearing their hearts on their sleeves", Rusbridger added newspapers should preserve a distinction between reporting and comment to maintain the confidence of their readers.

Osborne's arrival at the Standard in May would erode that trust, he said, and "throw petrol on the fire of the idea that politicians and journalists are all the same".

However, Rusbridger remained confident newspapers still have a role to play in public life, praising the New York Times and the Washington Post for their reporting of US politics and calling them "the only effective check and balance on Donald Trump".

George Osborne named Evening Standard editor

17 March

George Osborne has surprised many after being named the new editor of the London Evening Standard.

The Conservative MP for Tatton will work for the newspaper for our days a week after the departure of its outgoing editor Sarah Sands in May. He has no plans to quit parliament.

Osborne's only previous journalism experience was a brief stint as a freelance contributor to the Daily Telegraph's diary column in the early 1990s.

He joked about his inexperience as he addressed his new staff this afternoon, saying: "I may have run a country, but I've never run a newspaper."

Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev says he's "thrilled" to "have an editor of such substance" at the helm.

Osborne has recently made the headlines for taking on a string of paid speaking engagements alongside his parliamentary duties.

Earlier this month, there was fresh furore after the latest register of MPs' interests revealed that Osborne receives £650,000 a year as a part-time adviser to the US investment firm BlackRock.

Reactions to Osborne's latest gig were mixed, with many media commentators and politicians expressing reservations about the surprise appointment.

The Daily Mirror labelled the former chancellor "shameless", while the New Statesman referred to him as "the occasional MP for Tatton".

"He's boasted of a 'jobs miracle – and now has one of his own," says the magazine's Media Mole column.

It added: "Osborne's editorship now makes the Standard's politics clear."

One Conservative MP told The Guardian they were "unusually lost for words given everything else he is doing".

Another MP told the Daily Telegraph that Osborne "cannot be the editor of a newspaper and stay on in Parliament".

"I doubt there is a single MP in any party who thinks it is acceptable," the unnamed minister added. "It's power-crazed."

Response from Labour was even less reserved. Wes Streeting, the MP for Ilford North, predicted that the announcement would go down "like a cold bucket of sick" in Osborne's Cheshire constituency.

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Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the appointment of a sitting MP to head the widely-read newspaper "made a mockery of the independence of the media", adding that Osborne was "taking multitasking to an extreme level".

Former leader Ed Miliband joked that he was expecting to become the editor of Heat magazine.

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Osborne has insisted that his parliamentary responsibilities will not fall by the wayside as he takes on his new position.

"I was elected by my constituents in Tatton to serve them and I intend to fulfil that promise," he said.

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