Former Chancellor George Osborne is being lined up as the next BBC chairman, one of the most prestigious jobs in British broadcasting, after the Government increased the salary for the role, The Telegraph can reveal.
Ministers increased the chairman's pay to £160,000 a year for the part-time role to encourage a wider range of candidates when the job advert was posted online this week.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is understood to be very keen to appoint a Conservative to the role to counter a perceived left-wing bias at the corporation.
The Telegraph understands Mr Osborne, who edited the Evening Standard newspaper until June this year after quitting as a Conservative MP in 2017, is being urged to stand by senior figures.
One source said ministers could even lift the salary cap to as much as £280,000 a year, in a bid to secure the signature of Mr Osborne. The chairman's salary was cut to £100,000 when Sir David Clementi was appointed in 2016, and has been increased by £60,000 for the “3-4 days per week” role for a four-year contract running to 2025.
The role would in theory fit with Mr Osborne's job at fund manager BlackRock where it was reported in 2017 that he is paid £650,000 a year to work one day a week.
If Mr Osborne were to accept the offer he may have to quit some of his other roles.
It was claimed two years ago that he had taken on nine different jobs, including roles advising a San Francisco venture capital fund, a business with stakes in Juventus Football Club and Fiat, and the chairmanship of the Northern Powerhouse thinktank.
The BBC job advert said the Government is looking for "an outstanding individual with demonstrable leadership skills and a passion for the media and public broadcasting, to represent the public interest in the BBC and maintain the Corporation’s independence".
Applications close on November 11 and a shortlist will be drawn up on November 16. Final interviews are in late November or early December, with the successful candidate taking up their post in February.
The job advert also states that "all reasonable and properly documented expenses incurred in performing the duties of these roles will be reimbursed in accordance with BBC’s expenses policy".
Several government sources were tight-lipped about which candidates might put their name forward, although some downplayed the chances of Mr Osborne getting the job. There was also some doubt ministers will be able to increase the maximum salary to as high as £280,000.
Asked about the search for the next chairman, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the Culture select committee he was looking for “a strong, credible figure who can hold the BBC to account” and is “particularly concerned to ensure the BBC returns to its core values of impartiality”.
The successful candidate must answer the question: “Does the BBC as much reflect the values of somebody living in a semi in Leigh outside Manchester as they do someone living in a loft apartment in Old Street, London?” he said.
See below for the highlights of a September 2019 report into the BBC employee composition.
Other candidates who are expected to apply include Sir Robbie Gibb, an ex-BBC executive and the former head of communications at 10 Downing St; Baroness Morgan, who as Nicky Morgan is a former Conservative culture secretary; and Trevor Phillips, the former equalities chief.
Mr Osborne declined to comment. The Daily Telegraph understands that he has not yet been approached about the role.