LONDON In his first day as a newspaper editor, former finance minister George Osborne taunted British leader Theresa May over her snap election strategy and “unrealistic” Brexit stance.
Carrying a bundle of newspapers as he arrived at the offices of the Evening Standard, London’s daily metropolitan newspaper, Osborne said his editorship would provide “the straight facts and the informed analysis”.
Osborne, 45, was dismissed last year as finance minister by May after helping to lead the doomed campaign to stay in the European Union. He will step down as a member of parliament in the June 8 general election.
The Evening Standard’s front page on Tuesday read: “Brussels twists knife on Brexit” and added: “EU chief mocks PM May with her own ‘strong and stable leadership’ slogan”.
After meeting May at her Downing Street residence last Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was reported to have said he was “10 times more sceptical than I was before” about the possibility of sealing a deal.
The newspaper’s first daily editorial view under Osborne described Brexit as a historic mistake.
The alleged rancour between May and Juncker – dismissed by the former as gossip – showed how claims about the strength of Britain’s hand in negotiations were unrealistic, the paper said.
The article also suggested that Theresa May’s campaign to win a June 8 general election “amounts to no more than a slogan”. The Standard published a cartoon depicting May as Big Ben, incessantly chiming her “strong and stable” catchphrase.
Veteran journalists have mocked Osborne’s lack of editorial experience and potential conflicts of interest.
He already has a part-time job with a salary of 650,000 pounds ($836,810) a year for working 48 days at asset manager BlackRock, and earned hundreds of thousands of pounds giving speeches.
Once regarded as a future leader of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, Osborne had opposed some of Prime Minister Theresa May’s policies. British newspapers said her dismissal of Osborne – David Cameron’s finance minister for six years – was swift and ruthless, lasting only minutes.
While at the University of Oxford, Osborne dabbled in student journalism and was proud enough of his efforts to display the two issues of the magazine he edited in his Downing Street flat while chancellor.
($1 = 0.7768 pounds)
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)