Friday 12 June 2020 3:25 pm

Ex-chancellor George Osborne quits as Evening Standard editor after three years

George Osborne is to step down as editor of the Evening Standard after three years in the role, it was announced today. 

The former chancellor of the exchequer said: “After three wonderful years I’m stepping down at the Evening Standard to become editor-in-chief. Thanks to the team who’ve made the paper a must read and helped me steer it through the greatest crisis in its history.”

Read more: News UK set to cut jobs in radio and newspaper

Osborne, who took on the job in March 2017, will be replaced by Evening Standard columnist Emily Sheffield. Sheffield is the sister of Samantha Cameron, the wife of former Prime Minister David Cameron.

Osborne served as chancellor of the exchequer under Cameron, and left government in 2016 following the Brexit referendum. He stood down as MP for Tatton in Cheshire in 2017. 

Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Evening Standard, said: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of Emily Sheffield as editor of the Evening Standard.”

“The last few months have been a very tough time for this city and for this paper. But we look forward to a bright future with a brilliant new editor.”

Sheffield spent five years at the Evening Standard under editor Max Hastings, before becoming the deputy editor of British Vogue in 2005. She returned to the London paper as a columnist in 2018.

It comes as the newspaper industry continues to feel the weight of the coronavirus crisis. Prior to the lockdown, the Evening Standard’s circulation averaged 800,000 daily copies. Readership fell 11 per cent in April as the UK entered lockdown, and circulation is expected to have dipped further since. 

BBC media editor Amol Rajan took to Twitter to suggest that the paper’s “print title will continue for now but its future is uncertain”. Rajan added: “As an ad-funded title reliant on footfall, [the] Standard has been devastated by the pandemic.”

Sheffield responded:

Dear Amol Rajan. The newspaper remains a core element to this outstanding legacy news organisation. It has survived this crisis and it will survive many more.

Osborne shrugged off claims that his departure signalled warning signs for the paper. He said: “Could the paper that survived the Blitz keep going when our streets were locked down? The answer was yes.”

Read more: UK newspapers to lose £50m as advertisers ‘blacklist’ coronavirus

“Together we’ve kept the Evening Standard alive in its own darkest hour and produced some of our finest journalism. That’s a legacy I’m very proud to be part of.”

Osborne’s new role as editor-in-chief will be more managerial, City A.M. Alongside his role at the Evening Standard, Osborne is chair of Northern Powerhouse Partnership, an independent body representing Northern businesses. He also earns a £650,000 salary as an advisor for investment firm Blackrock.

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