George Osborne is facing calls to step down as an MP after the former chancellor was named as the new editor of the London Evening Standard by the newspaper’s multi-millionaire proprietor.
Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian oligarch who owns the paper, said Mr Osborne was the “obvious choice” and a man of “huge political achievement, and economic and cultural authority”.
But the MP faced immediate calls to give up his seat after he was accused of showing contempt for his constituents by taking on his sixth job.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the appointment makes a “mockery of media neutrality and insults the voters he is supposed to serve”, while Tory MP Nigel Adams said: “It is one thing writing a column for a newspaper, it is another being its full-time editor.”
And Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales, said the appointment “raises serious questions about his own ability to continue as an MP and the newspaper’s impartiality”.
She added: “At the very least George Osborne should be stripped of his title as a Privy Counsellor and barred from any secure briefings.” Robert Barrington, the executive director of anti-corruption NGO Transparency International UK, said he hoped that others “help him to understand the damage he is doing to the reputation of parliament and democracy at a critical time in the country’s history.”
But the announcement was welcomed by London mayor Sadiq Khan and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who tweeted: “Hooray!”
Mr Osborne, who was sacked from the cabinet by Theresa May in July, will earn £162,500 a quarter for 12 days’ work advising US fund manager Blackrock.
He is being paid £120,000 this year to be a Kissinger Fellow at the McCain Institute in Washington DC and has registered payments of £780,000 for 14 speeches since September.
Mr Osborne earns £74,000 a year as MP for Tatton in Cheshire, 200 miles from London, and has an unpaid role as chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, lobbying government for investment in the north of England.
Editing the Standard will give him a platform to make life difficult for Downing Street over Brexit.
He insisted he would stay in the Commons, saying he was “proud to be a Conservative MP”.
Mr Osborne told Standard journalists: “I’ve got to learn from you because I may have run the country but I haven’t actually run a newspaper.”