There was an outcry when former UK chancellor George Osborne was appointed to be editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper, while also remaining a member of parliament. He will be paid in the region of US$249,000 on top of his salary as an MP of US$92,000, as well as US$810,000 which he is paid for advising fund management giant BlackRock.
Although parliament has the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which is meant to clear post-ministerial employment in advance, Osborne ignored it and it is now powerless to intervene, bringing fierce criticism of the way parliament is regulated.
"[ACOBA] It is so toothless that Osborne clearly felt no pressure to clear his Evening Standard post with them before he accepted and announced the job. And even if ACOBA had advised him not to take the job, he could have ignored the advice with no penalty," wrote Robert Barrington, Transparency International's UK Executive Director in a blog.
"It's worth remembering that despite being a former Chancellor he had previously been cleared by ACOBA to take up his job at Blackrock — just like Andrew Lansley the former Health Secretary now working for a healthcare consultancy advising on NHS contracting, and former Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon and dozens of senior military officers now working for defense companies.
"Opinion surveys regularly show that the public have a low opinion of our politicians. 59 percent of UK citizens believe that the UK Government is ‘entirely' or ‘to a large extent' run by a few big entities acting in their own best interests. 67 percent simply say that UK political parties are corrupt," Barrington wrote.
Will the UK government finally admit corruption is a problem in UK politics and include this in the national anti-corruption strategy? https://t.co/MdQIGzIQE9— Robert Barrington (@TIukED) 4 April 2017
Osborne has three other jobs — apart from being an MP, editor of the Standard and adviser to BlackRock.
"I am proud to be a Conservative MP, but as editor and leader of a team of dedicated and independent journalists, our only interest will be to give a voice to all Londoners. We will be fearless as a paper fighting for their interests. We will judge what the government, London's politicians and the political parties do against this simple test: is it good for our readers and good for London? If it is, we'll support them. If it isn't, we'll be quick to say so," Osborne said in a letter to constituents.