Since George Osborne moved to the Evening Standard, the one-time austere chancellor has rebranded himself as a centrist darling – and a critic of Theresa May’s government. So, at last night’s Standard Progress 1000 awards at the Tate Modern, Osborne took great delight in telling the esteemed crowd – which included Diane Abbott, Matt Hancock and Grayson Perry – of how he had stood up to government bean counters when he first arrived in the Treasury:
‘In the first week of my former job, I was advised by the Treasury civil service to cancel immediately three projects because we had to save money and it was easier to save money from things we hadn’t built yet than things that had already been built.
The three projects were Crossrail, the Crick institute at Kings Cross, and the Tate Modern extension. And I said no to all three. And the Evening Standard has held party already in two of these venues so I wanted to make it a hat trick.’
Alas the guests in attendance at the champagne-fuelled bash appeared to take a less favourable view of some of the other decisions he made when in government. When Sadiq Khan asked the crowd to cheer Osborne, Mr S detected the distinct sound of boos emanating from one corner of the room…