Jeremy Hunt has insisted that Liz Truss is still in charge despite her premiership looking increasingly in peril, as he warned of further public spending cuts and failed to rule out more U-turns on her disastrous mini-budget, a media report said.
The new UK chancellor, now widely seen as the most powerful man in the government since he took over from the sacked Kwasi Kwarteng, has buried a series of flagship policies that brought Truss to power, The Guardian reported.
“The Prime Minister is in charge,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, even though her authority has been seriously undermined by her decision to allow him to tear up her economic agenda in a bid to calm the markets and mutinous Tory MPs, the report said.
Hunt claimed that the Prime Minister had changed, as he defended her credibility as leader.
Asked why people should trust what she or the government said, he replied: “Because she’s listened. She’s changed. She’s been willing to do that most difficult thing in politics, which is to change tack. What we’re going to do is to show not just what we want, but how we’re going to get there.”
However, the former health secretary appeared to rule out any future tilt at the Tory leadership, saying his desire to lead the party had been “clinically excised” thanks to previous failed attempts.
“I think having run two leadership campaigns, and by the way failed in both of them, the desire to be leader has been clinically excised from me,” he said. “I want to be a good chancellor. It’s going to be very, very difficult. But that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Hunt and Truss are meeting in her Chequers residence on Sunday with tax rises and spending cuts on the horizon, and the new chancellor admitting that “difficult decisions” are coming over the next two weeks, before the new budget on October 31.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said, as he promised to reassure the markets, The Guardian reported.
Truss has already been forced into a humiliating climbdown on her plans for a top 45p rate tax cut and a freeze in corporation tax, which will now go from 19 per cent to 25 per cent.