May Defends Osborne’s Appointment as Evening Standard Editor

  • Labour lawmakers have called for former chancellor to quit
  • Osborne also earns thousands from speeches, BlackRock

George Osborne.

Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May defended former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s appointment as editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, saying lawmakers with second jobs enrich Parliament.

News last month that Osborne is joining the free London daily has sparked calls, from opposition lawmakers in particular, for him to stand down as a member of Parliament. Since being fired in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union, Osborne has raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds, chiefly through speaking engagements, and become an adviser to asset manager BlackRock Inc. where he will earn 650,000 pounds ($811,000) a year for four days a month.

“MPs throughout time and continuing now have often had other roles and responsibilities and jobs as well as being an MP,’’ May told reporters during a three-day trip to the Middle East to boost trade and security ties with Jordan and Saudi Arabia. “We have doctors, dentists, nurses: we have reservists, special constables in the House of Commons. That brings a breadth of experience into the House of Commons. I think generally a breadth of experience in the House of Commons is a good thing.”

May is an unlikely defender of Osborne: one of her first acts on becoming prime minister in July was to dismiss him from the cabinet in a short meeting in Downing Street, after which he left by the back door. Osborne has needled the premier from the backbenches of Parliament as a firm advocate of a so-called soft Brexit.

May is conscious that many lawmakers in her Conservative Party hold second jobs and worried that Osborne’s high-profile additional roles may lead to restrictions on the extra work they can do. Parliament’s Committee on Standards in Public Life is reviewing its rules on MPs taking second jobs.

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