Osborne loses chairman role

George Osborne will be giving up his extra job as ‘unofficial party chairman’ following concerns that his shadow chancellor job is suffering.

The adjustment comes after rumours emerged vast swathes of the Tory grassroots are calling for his removal from office due to discontent over his response to the economic crisis.

Labour has seized on the shadow chancellor’s new-found lack of popularity.

“If David Cameron thinks George Osborne is not fit to run the Tory party, what makes him think he’s fit to run the British economy?” Ian Pearson, economic secretary to the treasury said.

“George Osborne’s economic judgement has been wrong at every turn, from opposing the action to save Northern Rock to putting fuel duty up by 5p for ordinary families.”

Mr Osborne is thought to have taken on responsibilities typically performed by party chairman Caroline Spelman, after she became involved in claims she exploited her Commons expenses to pay a nanny, in addition to his senior shadow cabinet position and supervision of general election schemes for the Tories.

Osborne will reportedly be taking the next four months to work exclusively on the economy.

“His policy on the economy is incoherent and unfair – spending less time at Central Office won’t change that,” Mr Pearson said.

Some have said the shadow chancellor’s reputation probably would have remained untouched by the Deripaska-affair if the Tories had given a better impression with their alternative economic plan.

As it is, the Conservatives are trying desperately to close the gap between them and the Labour on the public’s perception of economic handling.

Senior MPs have reportedly suggested that Mr Osborne could be replaced by William Hague or Ken Clarke.

Tory leader David Cameron has repeatedly said Mr Osborne’s position is safe.