Evening Standard attacks Theresa May's election campaign on George Osborne's first day as editor

The paper’s editorial reads: ‘If you ask for a blank cheque, don’t be surprised if later it bounces’

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Ex-Chancellor George Osborne’s first day as editor of the London Evening Standard has seen the paper print a scathing analysis of Theresa May’s election campaign, suggesting it could become “no more than a slogan”.

The newspaper which Mr Osborne began editing on Tuesday, warned the Prime Minister she is failing to set out what she wants from Brexit, adding, “if you ask for a blank cheque, don’t be surprised if later it bounces”.

The forthright editorial also hits out at rising prices from Brexit and says the public does not want to see “clumsy immigration controls” restricting the country.

George Osborne arrives for first day as Evening Standard editor to taxi drivers' protests

Mr Osborne has said he will stand down as an MP following Ms May’s decision to call for an election and his move to become the editor of a major news publication.

The editorial in the paper, part of the same group as The Independent, argues that no one should assume last year's EU referendum gave a mandate to the Government to answer critical questions about Britain’s future, adding: “It did not.

Copies of the first ‘London Evening Standard’ to be edited by the former Chancellor (Getty)

“A general election victory for the Conservatives could provide more of a mandate, but only if the Prime Minister and her colleagues spell out in much more detail what their intentions are.

“It’s early days, but that is not happening, thanks in part to the failure of the desperately weak Labour leadership to offer a proper opposition. There’s nothing wrong with repeating election campaign slogans; the problem comes when the election campaign amounts to no more than a slogan. If you ask for a blank cheque, don’t be surprised if later it bounces.”

Mr Osborne and Ms May clashed while they served in the Cabinet together, with a particular battle taking place over Ms May’s immovable stance on recording overseas students as immigrants in official data.

There were also reports of a certain amount of satisfaction in Downing Street after Mr Osborne decided he would not stand again as an MP in the wake of Ms May’s push for a general election. 

In a statement after the appointment was announced, Mr Osborne said: “I am proud to be a Conservative MP, but as editor and leader of a team of dedicated and independent journalists, our only interest will be to give a voice to all Londoners.

“We will be fearless as a paper fighting for their interests. We will judge what the Government, London’s politicians and the political parties do against this simple test: is it good for our readers and good for London? If it is, we’ll support them. If it isn’t, we’ll be quick to say so.”

Arriving at the title's offices at 7am with newspapers tucked under his arm, Mr Osborne – a prominent leader of the Remain campaign in last year's EU referendum – said it was “very exciting to be starting in the new job”.

“It's a really important time in our country, when people are going to want the straight facts, the informed analysis, so they can make the really big decisions about this country's future,” he said.

“The Evening Standard is going to provide that and it is going to entertain along the way.”

Mr Osborne was greeted outside the Standard’s west London offices by a billboard reading “George Osborne: Lowering London’s Standards”, placed by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who accuse him of favouring internet-based cab-hailing service Uber.