George Osborne only went for Evening Standard editorship after friends asked for advice about applying, ally says

Ben Riley-Smith
George Osborne has been announced as the new editor of the Evening Standard - © Evening Standard / eyevine. All Rights Reserved.

George Osborne only went for the Evening Standard editorship after friends asked his advice about applying, it has emerged.

The former Chancellor first considered the role after being inundated with requests for his thoughts from other possible candidates, an ally has claimed.

The revelation comes amid a backlash after Mr Osborne was announced as the new editor of London’s leading newspaper.

It is his sixth jobs alongside advising the financial giant BlackRock, doing after dinner speeches, completing a fellowship in America, chairing the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and being MP for Tatton.

He is facing calls to step down from Parliament amid concerns the editorship will take time away from representing his constituents and warnings over conflicts of interest.

Rohan Silva, a former Number 10 adviser during David Cameron’s premiership, revealed when Mr Osborne first considered the job during an interview on BBC Radio Four.

“I was probably one of hundreds of people who called him up yesterday and said ‘wow, where did that come from’ to the news of him getting the editorship job,” Mr Silva told the Today programme.

“He said that a bunch of people had been calling him up asking him for advice on whether they should apply for the editorship job.

“After a few of these calls, he sort of thought to himself ‘hang on, actually this is something I really want to do,” so he reached out to the Standard.

Nick Robinson, the Today presenter and former BBC political editor, joked: “The thing we learned there is if you call George and ask for advice about a job, he’’ll take the job you’re going to apply for.”

Mr Osborne now has six jobs and will earn more than £1.5million this year. A senior Government source told The Daily Telegraph: "It's all about establishing a power base. He lost the argument last year in the referendum, he lost influence in Parliament.

"Now he thinks he can start a new debate as the editor of a newspaper. As a major newspaper that represents the City and has a huge voice you can kick up quite a stink and absolutely slam the Government's Brexit plans.”

Mr Osborne has previously warned Mrs May that he is prepared to "fight" the Government over Brexit issues including access to the Single Market, free trade and immigration.

However as a back-bencher his ability to shape the political debate around Brexit has been severely diminished. The editorship of the the Evening Standard will give him significant political influence.

He said on Saturday: “We will be fearless as a paper fighting for their interests. We will judge what the government, London’s politicians and the political parties do against this simple test: is it good for our readers and good for London? If it is, we’ll support them. If it isn’t, we’ll be quick to say so.”