Jeremy Hunt told job safe until at least spring 2024 Budget

Jeremy Hunt told job safe until at least spring 2024 Budget

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is said to have been told his job is safe until at least the spring, amid claims he could be sacked at Rishi Sunak’s next reshuffle.

There had been growing speculation at Westminster that Mr Hunt could fall foul of changes to cabinet – with some Conservatives calling on the PM to axe his “bland” chancellor.

But Downing Street appears to be keen to quash stories about a move against Mr Hunt in a bid to refresh his ailing government – insisting he would still be at the Treasury to deliver the Budget in March 2024.

A No 10 source told The Times and The Sun: “The chancellor and PM are working closely together on driving down inflation and building an economy for the future.

“The chancellor will be delivering the autumn statement in a few weeks’ time and the budget next spring,” they added.

Mr Sunak is thought to have decided that Mr Hunt remains the best person to restore stability and credibility after the havoc wreaked by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-Budget last year.

Mr Hunt is widely expected to disappoint many Tory MPs by rejecting tax cuts at the autumn statement next month.

He said last month it was “very difficult” to have headline tax cuts in 2023, as he prioritises the balancing of the books in a bid to finally tame inflation.

Right-wing frustration with the Tory moderate spilled over in the aftermath of double by-election defeat in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire.

Hunt delivered Budget of 2023 to restore some order after Truss disaster (UK Parliament)
Hunt delivered Budget of 2023 to restore some order after Truss disaster (UK Parliament)

One Tory MP told the Mail that Mr Hunt was “certainly not being a Tory chancellor” and that Mr Sunak should be “courageous” enough to get rid of someone so “bland” and “timid”.

Almost 40 Tory MPs and peers have signed ex-chairman Jake Berry’s pledge to vote against the autumn statement if Mr Hunt increases “the overall tax burden”.

There is speculation that Mr Sunak could still decide to remove Mr Hunt before the general election expected in the autumn of 2024.

The PM’s close ally Claire Coutinho, the net zero secretary, is tipped as the leading contender to take up the role if No 10 is keen to offer a sense of renewal before going to the polls.

Meanwhile, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is set to deliver its latest forecasts next week, with some in government optimistic that the outlook will be bright enough to begin planning tax cuts before the next election.

Mr Hunt has dismissed rumours that he is set to quit parliament by standing down in his Surrey constituency at the next election.

The chancellor insisted he would fight to win in Godalming & Ash, as boundaries are redrawn in South West Surrey. The “blue wall” seat, which he holds with a majority of 9,000, remains one of the Liberal Democrats top targets.

Meanwhile, the latest YouGov shows that around seven in ten voters think Mr Sunak is doing badly on the economy, the cost of living crisis and the NHS.