Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Quickfire
17 October

All hail the new leader, Jeremy Hunt

For all the talk of unity, the direction of post-Truss travel is obvious.

By John Oxley

Chaos is over; normal service is resumed. It’s the sort of televised message that marks the transition of power in states less stable and democratic than ours. The face of the new regime takes to the airwaves and explains in a stern but calm voice that all is well, there is no need for panic, order has been restored. The backdrop to Jeremy Hunt’s first broadcast as Chancellor was not as extreme as a coup, but its message was similar.

In five minutes, straight to camera, he sought to smooth over the carnage of the mini-Budget and the sacking of his predecessor after just 38 days in the role. He was there to reassure the markets, and the British people, that economic orthodoxy was being restored. In doing so, he rolled back almost all the Prime Minister’s flagship reforms and revealed where power now really sits.

Virtually every tax cut promised by Kwasi Kwarteng was reversed in the push for “sustainable public finances”. The Chancellor also reduced the scale and scope of the energy package, proposing to time-limit and target support from next April. The dash for growth was gone in an instant; instead the focus was on managing volatility and reducing debt.

It was a steady and assured performance. It contrasted greatly with the Prime Minister’s shell-shocked appearance in Downing Street on Friday (14 October), but as well as the change of policy, it heralded a change in the locus of power. Hunt’s very appearance made it clear that since his appointment to the Treasury on the same day, he has begun to call the shots. While he stressed that the Prime Minister had agreed these policies, at no point did it seem like she had much of a choice. Buffeted by the markets, the polls and her own MPs, bereft of her first-choice chancellor, she couldn’t escape the demands of the second choice.

Equally unspoken were the implications for Liz Truss’s future as Prime Minister. Having failed in her self-heralded growth agenda, her premiership now lacks its central tenet. Her ideas have been jettisoned, and she’s not even the one allowed to announce it. That Hunt was front and centre for today’s announcement shows how the Prime Minister is not just sidelined in policy decisions, but in communications too.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Her absence from the stage was a hint of what comes next. It was as if Hunt was about to tell the nation that Truss had gone to live on a farm, and while she would be very happy there, no, we wouldn’t be able to visit. He didn’t have to say what is really happening to her premiership; and for all the talk of unity, the direction of travel was obvious.

This morning’s press conference was the soft launch of a post-Truss vision, a trialling of the gentle slide into the new regime. It remains unclear just how and when her time in office will end, but it is unmistakably hollowed out. She may limp on as a figurehead or be swiftly defenestrated. For now, we must just listen to the Chancellor and all remain calm. Chaos is over, normal service is resumed.

Content from our partners
What are the green skills of the future?
A global hub for content producers, gaming and entertainment companies in Abu Dhabi
Insurance: finding sustainable growth in stormy markets

[See also: Councils will crumble under Jeremy Hunt’s spending cuts]

Topics in this article: , ,