After firing Kwarteng, Liz Truss makes Jeremy Hunt chancellor.
A former candidate for the Tory leadership is back in the cabinet as the Prime Minister tries to reach out to other parts of the party.
Liz Truss’s new chancellor is Jeremy Hunt. This is a huge turn of events in politics and a sign that the troubled prime minister wants to reach out to other parts of the Conservative party.
Hunt, a former foreign secretary and health secretary who has tried and failed twice to become leader of the Conservatives, was named chancellor after Truss fired Kwasi Kwarteng, who had been in the job for just over five weeks, before another U-turn on tax cuts.
Chris Philp, who was Kwarteng’s No. 2 as chief secretary to the Treasury, was fired and moved to the Cabinet Office to become paymaster general as part of a wider “mini-reshuffle.” Edward Argar took the place of Philp in a direct job swap.
Since Boris Johnson became prime minister in 2019, Hunt has been sitting in the back of the room. He is seen as coming from the more “one-nation” side of the party. His appointment shows that Truss wants to get more people to back her, which is likely to slow down her rush to cut taxes.
The appointment seems to be a response to complaints from Tory MPs that Truss’s first cabinet was filled almost entirely with people who voted for her in the leadership race, not because of their skills or experience.
Hunt made it to the final round of the Tory race to replace Theresa May in 2019, but Boris Johnson easily beat him in a vote of party members. In July, only 18 of his colleagues voted for him in the first round of voting by MPs.
The reshuffle happened right before Truss was going to hold an emergency press conference at Downing Street. At the conference, she was going to change her mind about not raising corporation tax, which she had said she would not do last month. This was part of a largely unfunded mini-budget that shook the markets and destroyed Truss’s credibility after she had only been in her job for a few weeks.
Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats said that Truss should step down now. Rachel Reeves, who is the shadow chancellor, said, “We need a change in government, not just in the chancellor.”