Former UK chancellor George Osborne quits Parliament
George Osborne, who as chancellor of the exchequer was part of the drive by David Cameron’s government to boost economic ties with China, said on Wednesday he will not seek reelection as an MP. He made the announcement just ahead of Parliament deciding by 522 votes to 13 to allow a general election to be held on June 8.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, speaks at The Times CEO summit in London, Britain June 28, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
Theresa May fired Osborne as chancellor when she took over as prime minister last June in the wake of the referendum in which Britons voted in favor of leaving the European Union.
He remained an MP and was named chairman of the Northern Powerhouse, an initiative he shepherded through that aims to attract investment into England’s North. He said he will continue in that role.
Osbornewas recently appointed editor of London’s Evening Standard newspaper. He wrote in the paper on Wednesday: “I am stepping down from Westminster – for now,” which was seen by many as a hint that he may return to political life. He is 45.
Osborne made a number of high-profile trips to China while chancellor. He was seen as having played a key role in advancing the Sino-UK relationship, which materialized in important projects, including China’s investment in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.
An MP for 16 years, he had been tipped as a possible future prime minister, until the unexpected vote in favor of leaving the EU derailed his career.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats supported the government’s motion to hold an election this summer, instead of on the 2020 date when the fixed-term parliament was scheduled to have ended. Scotland’s SNP, which has 53 seats in the House of Commons, abstained from the vote on Wednesday.
Now that May’s proposal to hold a June 8 election has cleared Parliament, campaigning will begin in earnest.
Recent opinion polls have put May’s Conservatives in front of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party by as much as 21 points. Labour is believed to be suffering from internal dissent. Most commentators expect the Conservatives to win comfortably and significantly increase May’s majority.