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At least George Osborne is having fun. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was fired by Theresa May last year when she became Prime Minister, is reborn as editor of the London Evening Standard and is getting his revenge in early. On a daily basis, he lands fresh blows in the leaders and in news stories on the Tory election campaign. It is enthralling to watch. Pow! Take that, Theresa, for scrapping free school lunches. Bam! That’s for the social care mess in the Tory manifesto. Zap! That’s not how you make u-turns (Osborne is quite an expert in this field.)
Osborne’s friends always used to say that he had missed his vocation as a journalist. He certainly thinks like a good journalist. He likes mischief and he is causing plenty of it as the Tory poll lead shrinks.
This has not escaped the notice of the wider Conservative family. When Tories are done off the record criticising the party’s campaign, squabbling about who is to blame, thoughts frequently turn swiftly to the glee with which Osborne has set about May in a crisis. They can unite around this. If he harbours any aspirations to return – as a hero – to the Commons at some later date to become Prime Minister he can forget it this century.
“Osborne wouldn’t even get on the candidates list after this,” says a minister, who points out that Tory selection rules forbid anyone who has caused damage to the Conservative party accidentally or otherwise. Although those rules would, if applied evenly, see several of the Prime Minister’s advisers and some members of the cabinet flung out of parliament. The anger goes beyond the rulebook though. Osborne has transgressed against the unwritten conventions of the Tory tribe. He has shown disloyalty to the tribal elder mid-battle. He has pissed on the party’s chips during an election. “****ing George,”…