London business chief defends Osborne in row over editor job

New role: George Osborne addresses Evening Standard staff: Lucy Young

The chief executive of business group London First today stepped into the row over George Osborne’s appointment as Evening Standard editor, saying the former chancellor could champion both the capital and the North.

Jasmine Whitbread spoke out after Labour and SNP MPs said it was impossible to be both an editor for London and MP for Tatton in Cheshire.

She said: “Critics have asked how George, known for his support of the Northern Powerhouse, can possibly champion London. But I completely disagree — this is a false dichotomy, one business simply doesn’t recognise.

“Business has a shared agenda across the UK: to get our capital and our country Brexit-ready, and, as we prepare for 2019, the Standard will continue to be a strong and influential voice.”

Labour raised the issue in the Commons yesterday, with shadow minister Andrew Gwynne arguing it was “a matter of great concern” and risked diminishing Parliament in voters’ eyes.

Mr Osborne responded: “In my view, this Parliament is enhanced when we have people of different experience take part in our robust debate and when people who have held senior ministerial office continue to contribute to the decisions we have to make.”