Are you sitting comfortably? George Osborne certainly wasn’t as he watched Labour raise an urgent question in Parliament about his appointment as the new editor of the London Evening Standard.
Labour’s Andrew Gwynne gave a frank assessment of the conduct of the triple-jobbing Tory MP despite being warned by the Speaker not to mention Osborne by name. He said:
“To hold one outside interest is perhaps defensible. But to hold several time consuming outside commitments that have a deep overlap with the political role of what is supposed to be a full-time commitment as a member of this House is impossible to defend.”
Osborne says he’s going to keep taking his £74,962 salary as MP for Tatton, which is 140 miles away from London, while beginning his new career in journalism.
The register of MPs’ interests shows he has also taken a £650,000 a year part-time job as an advisor to wealth management firm Blackrock.
On top of that, Scrapbook has reported that Osborne has pocketed £771,367 in speaking fees since being sacked as Chancellor.
Gwynne said the former Chancellor is:
“Doing a disservice to MPs who spend every hour of their day fighting for their constituents interests and ensure proper attention to the representative role of an MP is given as a vocation to public service should require.”
Osborne has also been criticised by the Parliament’s advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba) for announcing his appointment before receiving confirmation it was within the rules.
There could be more embarrassment over the issue for Osborne when Acoba delivers its verdict on March 13.
And the Committee on Standards in Public Life has today announced that it will address the controversy at its next meeting on Thursday.
Osborne tried to make light of the affair when he began his short intervention, saying: “I thought it was important to be here although we’ve missed the deadline for the Evening Standard.
But SNP MP Roger Mullin didn’t see the funny side. He said: “This is a disgraceful shambles and we need to know what this Government is going to do about it.”
Scrapbook reckons they’re more likely to send him press releases than throw the book at him…