Saturday, 17 December 2016

Evening Standard: George Osborne is seizing the moment to be a major political player again

Evening Standard: George Osborne is seizing the moment to be a major political player again

by Matthew Ancona

"It was entirely characteristic of George Osborne to make his first speech from the backbenches since 2003 in such dramatic style. When he was ejected from the Government in July, there were plenty who argued that the suddenly ex-Chancellor’s career in frontline politics had ended before his 46th birthday. His remarks this week on the tragedy of Aleppo suggest otherwise.

The humanitarian disaster unfolding on our screens, he said, “did not come out of a vacuum; it was created by a vacuum — a vacuum of Western leadership, including American and British leadership.” As a former member of the National Security Council, Osborne himself took his share of responsibility. He urged Parliament to do the same “because of what it prevented being done” — specifically the shameful decision of the Commons in August 2013 not to endorse a military response to the sarin attack on Ghouta by Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

In No 10, Osborne’s every move is monitored with suspicion leavened by a measure of residual hope. The Prime Minister’s private position is clear: for different reasons, he and Michael Gove could not remain Cabinet members after the EU referendum, David Cameron’s fall and the ensuing leadership struggle. But their banishment was never meant to be permanent exile. In private, Theresa May’s allies insist that there is “a way back” for both."

We need George Osborne now more than ever.

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