Jeremy Hunt announces changes to measures from mini-budget
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Liz Truss texted Jeremy Hunt to offer him the Chancellor’s job, but he thought it was a prank and ignored it, sources have said. Mr Hunt, who was enjoying a city break with his wife and children in Belgium at the time, received a call from a number he didn’t recognise. He chose to ignore the call, which was then followed with a text message which read: “Jeremy, it’s Liz Truss, please call urgently”.
According to the Daily Mail, Mr Hunt “laughed out loud” at the text, joking to his wife that it must be a prank as he had Ms Truss’s number stored in his phone.
Unknowing that Ms Truss now uses multiple mobile phones, Mr Hunt reportedly ignored the text.
It was only when the Prime Minister ordered her officials to contact the new Chancellor’s South West Surrey constituency office that he finally returned her call.
When he accepted the job, he is said to have had a long list of conditions about slashing large amounts of Kwasi Kwarteng’s September mini-budget.
Earlier this week, Mr Hunt suggested that the country could be plunged back into a new era of austerity, after reversing almost all the measures announced in the mini-budget.
The country has been told to expect spending cuts across all departments and the possibility of further tax rises.
Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Mr Hunt explained: “We are a country that funds our promises and pays our debts and – when that is threatened, as it has been – this Government will take the difficult decisions. That means decisions of eye-watering difficulty.”
He continued: “Every single one of those decisions will be shaped through core, compassionate conservative values that will prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable.
“I want to be completely frank about the scale of the economic challenge we face.
“We have had short-term difficulties, but there are also inflationary and interest pressures around the world.
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“We need to do more, more quickly to give certainty to the markets about our fiscal plans.”
Mr Hunt announced on Monday that the basic rate of income tax will remain at 20p indefinitely – instead of being reduced to 19p.
Meanwhile, the cap on energy bills is guaranteed until April next year, but will then be reviewed.
He said: “As I promised at the weekend, our priority in making the difficult decisions that lie ahead will always be the most vulnerable and I remain extremely confident about the UK’s long-term economic prospects as we deliver our mission to go for growth.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Ms Truss of being “in office but not in power”, meanwhile an ally of Mr Hunt was quoted over the weekend saying he could be seen as the “chief executive” while she was the “chairman”.
But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted she was still in charge, adding: “She has been working closely with her Chancellor over the weekend to agree this approach.”
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