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Opinion
Adrian Wooldridge

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Jeremy Hunt

How the new chancellor of the exchequer survived Johnson and Truss to become the UK's most powerful politician.

Jeremy Hunt outside the prime minister’s residence on Downing Street.

Jeremy Hunt outside the prime minister’s residence on Downing Street.

Photographer: Carlos Jasso/Bloomberg

Jeremy Hunt is UK prime minister in all but name. Liz Truss is nothing more than a specter walking the corridors of power, occasionally wailing and clanking her chains. On Monday, she didn’t even take an “urgent question” — posed by Labour — on what on earth is going on, leaving the job to her former leadership rival, Penny Mordaunt. She also turned up late and looked miserable. Hunt is now both the public face of the government, routinely acting as its spokesman in parliament and the media. He is also its leading decision-maker, tearing up almost all of Truss’s budget and starting from scratch.

There are no parallels in British history. The nearest comparison for Hunt is Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank who was parachuted into power in Italy 2020 when Giuseppe Conte’s government collapsed.