How Jeremy Hunt became the most powerful person in Britain

The new chancellor of the exchequer promises orthodoxy and competence

Jeremy Hunt is chancellor in name but prime minister in practice. PHOTO: REUTERS
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

The most powerful person in Britain entered the House of Commons on Oct 17 to a chorus of respectful grunts. Addressing MPs — as well as a wider audience of investors who buy gilts and sterling — he began soberly: “We are a country that funds our promises and pays our debts.” Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, delivered the message like a doctor with a grim diagnosis. Next to him sat Liz Truss, the actual prime minister. She stared into the middle distance while Mr Hunt set about running the country.

Mr Hunt is chancellor in name but prime minister in practice. In his first week he has undone £32 billion (S$51 billion) of tax cuts and reforms that Ms Truss was elected by Tory party members to carry out, after her measures sparked panic in markets and a plunge in the polls. By the end of his first month in the job Mr Hunt will reveal perhaps another £40 billion-worth of tax rises and spending cuts. Britain has long had a constitutional monarch, a ceremonial figurehead who is ultimately powerless, says one wag. Now it has a constitutional prime minister.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.