Conservative Party activists have been quick to defend George Osborne's shock decision to become the new editor of the London Evening Standard.
The surprise announcement came as the Tories held their Spring conference in Cardiff, Wales, on Friday (17 March). A senior party source looked caught off-guard when approached by IBTimes UK, admitting that he had no prior knowledge of Osborne's new journalism job.
"I wasn't aware of it, but I'm here [not in London]," the source said.
The appointment by proprietor Evgeny Lebedev raises questions about a potential conflict of interest for Osborne, who is going to stay on as the Conservative MP for the Greater Manchester seat of Tatton when he succeeds Sarah Sands as editor in May.
"It's no different to [now Foreign Secretary] Boris Johnson being the editor of The Spectator for years as a member of parliament," Philip Merry, a Tory from the Wirral told IBTimes UK.
"He's an MP for Cheshire who's been living in 11 Downing Street for the last seven years. That's my patch, I'm not far from George, he's still been incredibly committed constituency member of Parliament.
"He still works hard for his constituents, arguably the job he had has Chancellor was far more demanding than being the editor of Evening Standard. I don't doubt George will continue to exercise the duties as MP for Tatton in the excellent way that he has since he was elected."
Other Conservatives were more tight-lipped about Osborne's editorship, with a group of three delegates walking away when approached for comment. But Liam, a young activist from Bedfordshire, also defended Osborne.
"The Evening Standard has already had a centre-right leaning. I think George will fit quite nicely into that as a backbench MP," he said.
Osborne, 45, was sacked as Chancellor in the wake of the Brexit vote last June by new Prime Minister Theresa May. The pro-EU politician has since gone onto acquire a string of jobs alongside his £75,000 annual salary as an MP, including becoming an advisor for Blackrock Investments.
"I am proud to have an editor of such substance, who reinforces The Standard's standing and influence in London and whose political viewpoint – socially liberal and economically pragmatic – closely matches that of many of our readers," Lebedev said.
"George is London through and through and I am confident he is the right person to build on the fantastic legacy of Sarah Sands."