UK chancellor George Osborne

Former UK chancellor George Osborne has been announced as the surprise editor of London newspaper The Evening Standard.

Mr Osborne will replace Sarah Sands in the role and continue to serve as an MP in his northern constituency Tatton, the paper’s owner Evgeny Lebedev said on Twitter.

Despite having no formal journalistic experience, Mr Osborne “put himself forward for the position”, said Mr Lebedev, who added:

I am proud to have an Editor of such substance, who reinforces the Evening Standard’s standing and influence in London and whose political viewpoint – liberal on social issues and pragmatic on economic ones – closely matches those of many of our readers.

Commenting on his shock appointment, the Tory MP said:

Growing up as a Londoner, I’ve always known that the Evening Standard is an institution that plays a huge part in the life of the city and its people. Now it is a great honour that I can play a part as leader of the editorial team making the Evening Standard the definitive voice of the world’s most exciting city.

So much is now at stake about the future of our country and its capital city. I will remain in Parliament, where that future is debated. I was elected by my constituents in Tatton to serve them and I intend to fulfil that promise.

I remain passionate about the Northern Powerhouse and will continue to promote that cause. Right from the first speech I gave about the North of England, I’ve said that London needs a successful north and the north benefits from its links to a global city like London. It’s not a zero-sum game, but quite the opposite.

Mr Osborne follows in the wake of his former cabinet colleague Boris Johnson who edited the Spectator magazine as an MP for Henley. Mr Johnson, later Mayor of London, gave up his weekly column at the Daily Telegraph after being appointed UK foreign minister last summer.

Earlier this month, it was revealed Mr Osborne would earn £650,000 a year at investment giant BlackRock where he will work for four days a month.

As a History student at Oxford, Mr Osborne edited the university’s Isis magazine where he produced its first ever “hemp edition” in 1992.

The front cover was adorned with two large cannabis leaves with a caption: “Part of this magazine has been printed on cannabis paper. Do not attempt to smoke it”. In 1997, Mr Osborne was rejected for a job at The Economist.

Mr Osborne’s wife Frances, an author, worked as a journalist at the Daily Telegraph.

Former Labour Party leader Michael Foot edited the New Statesman and The Daily Herald during the 1940s. In the 1970s, sitting Labour MP Richard Crossman combined his role as a parliamentarian with the editorship of the New Statesmen. Michael Gove, another Tory colleague of Mr Osborne, returned the The Times newspaper as a columnist and new reviewer last year.

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