Parliament’s sleaze watchdog to consider rules banning second jobs like George Osborne’s Evening Standard editorship

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

Parliament’s sleaze watchdog will consider banning MPs taking second jobs like George Osborne’s Evening Standard editorship next month, it can be revealed. 

MPs on the parliamentary Committee on Standards will demand the rules are tightened after a backlash over Mr Osborne’s new role. 

Tommy Sheppard, an SNP MP on the committee, told this newspaper he would push for two new rule changes to the code of conduct next month. 

The first would see MPs barred from taking jobs which stop them fully representing constituents; the second would say no second job can involve more than 20 hours work a week.

Mr Sheppard said: “One of the principles I think there is broad agreement on is that if you have a second or third job, then it must be something that demonstrably doesn't prevent you doing your first job as an MP. 

“You cannot edit the Evening Standard and represent your constituents in any meaningful sense.

"How many votes would you miss in the Commons, for example? It beggars belief and I think it will fuel demands for tightening up the rules.”

The changes will be discussed next month when the committee considers alterations to the Code of Conduct, which dictates how MPs must behave. 

Mr Osborne now has six jobs - editing the Evening Standard, 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 resign over conflicts of interest, while Labour has asked the Cabinet Office to investigate whether he has breached the Code of Conduct. However sources familiar with the rules said it was unlikely any had been broken.

Lord Bew, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, is also expected to raise concerns in the coming days. 

It emerged Saturday that Mr Osborne only went for the Evening Standard editorship after friends asked his advice about applying themselves. 

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.”

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