Chancellor Philip Hammond will play a direct part in the decision made by the government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) on his predecessor George Osborne’s new role as editor of the Evening Standard.
Acoba, the body tasked with scrutinising appointments, will ask relevant government departments for their opinions on whether the new job will raise conflicts of interest.
This will likely include the Treasury, which Hammond heads, as well as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is headed by Karen Bradley, an Acoba spokesperson told City A.M.
While Acoba has no formal powers to block Osborne from taking the job, a recommendation that he should not take up the role would raise significant pressure on the former chancellor to reject the role.
Acoba confirmed it has received Osborne’s application for appointment advice. Responses usually take around three weeks or more to be completed.
While it is unprecedented in recent times for a serving MP to edit a major newspaper, Acoba has extensive experience deciding on possible conflicts of interests with politicians involved in the media.
In its recent approval of MP Michael Gove’s job as a columnist at The Times Acoba said the Ministry of Justice, in which he had his most recent ministerial role, had “no concerns”.
Acoba also “noted that Mr Gove is a journalist by profession” when making its recommendation.
Gove was also advised he should not be involved in lobbying the government on behalf of The Times, or draw on “privileged information” from his job as a Cabinet minister.
In an interview with London Live, the channel owned by Standard and Independent owner Evgeny Lebedev, Osborne promised: “We will be fearless and we will be independent as a newspaper.”
He added: “I will speak for London and Londoners through this paper as its editor.”
However, he said he was “proud to represent my constituency” in Tatton, Cheshire.
He told the Evening Standard: "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.”
Osborne will also balance his roles with one day a week working for asset management giant Blackrock.