George Osborne's Evening Standard job triggers review into MPs' second jobs

Tareq Haddad
Former chancellor George Osborne appointed editor of Evening Standard

George Osborne's controversial appointment as a newspaper editor could mean the end of second jobs for MPs.

After Friday's (17 March) shock announcement that he will take on the role at the London Evening Standard while maintaining his seat as MP for Tatton in Cheshire, many debated whether the former chancellor will have enough time to fulfil both roles, in addition to his other jobs.

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Now, the head of Britain's standards watchdog for MPs confirmed the appointment will trigger an official review as he stated he was "uncomfortable" with the arrangement.

Lord Bew, chairman of the committee on standards in public life, told the Sunday Times: "We have not ruled out MPs having second jobs, quite deliberately, up until now, but we now have to look again at our rules.

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George Osborne's many jobs

  • Member of Parliament for Tatton.
  • Editor of the Evening Standard newspaper.
  • Speaker for Washington Speakers Bureau, for which he performs talks across the world.
  • Chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a government-backed body created with the aim to boost industry and trade in the north of England.
  • Advisor for the financial firm BlackRock.
  • Kissinger Fellow at the American thinktank, the McCain Institute.

"We are going to discuss whether our rules on second jobs need to be changed in light of this. We had something that up to a degree worked. It now seems to be getting into rockier waters."

Bew, a cross-bench peer, said his opposition to Osborne's appointment was shared by other members of his committee, which will meet on Thursday (23 March) to discuss the issue.

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"Unless someone sleeps two hours a night – that's the only way I can see how this is not [too much]," Bew added.

"You can see immediately why certain things might fit it [the policy on second jobs] and this one doesn't.

"This is not personal to George Osborne. But [his case] raises the issue of how much time MPs have to devote to their parliamentary work."

His committee is tasked with upholding the seven Nolan principles of public life – the first of which is "selflessness". The clause states: "Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest."

However, some MPs feel Osborne is clearly in violation of that as his yearly salary rose to above £1m ($1.24m) a year. According to the Sunday Times, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith had privately compared Osborne to Gordon Gekko, the character in the film Wall Street who says: "Greed is good."

It has also emerged that Osborne took on the editorship before receiving prior approval from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which is supposed to clear jobs of servants of the Crown in the two years after leaving office.

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