LONDON (AP) — Britain’s new Treasury chief insisted Sunday that Prime Minister Liz Truss will keep control of her government despite having to reverse her economic policies weeks after becoming prime minister.
Jeremy Hunt was tapped to lead the Treasury after Truss sacked Kwasi Kwarteng amid mounting pressure following a turbulent market reaction to the new administration’s “mini budget”.
“The prime minister is in charge,” Hunt, a former foreign and health secretary, told the BBC when asked if he now held all the power in Downing Street.
Truss and Kwarteng slowly unveiled key elements of their economic vision, including tax cuts for top earners and a halt to corporate tax rises, before the prime minister caved in to financial market volatility and a jittery poll result and sacked Kwarteng.
Hunt has now said taxes will rise and public spending cut, despite Britain’s growing cost of living crisis.
He said he was surprised to receive the invitation to return to government, but was “honored” to join government because he shared Truss’s desire to prioritize economic growth.
“It changed how we’re going to get there, but it didn’t change the destination, which is to grow the country,” Hunt said.
It remains unclear whether Truss, who secured the support of most Conservative Party members but not its lawmakers during this summer’s leadership campaign, can fend off any plots to oust her.
Tory MP Robert Halfon told Sky News on Sunday that many colleagues were still unhappy and the situation “must be fixed”.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer pressed the Labor Party’s call for a snap general election to restore stability, saying the Conservatives were “at the end of the road”.
Hunt suggested the election was not imminent, saying Truss would be judged on how her government performed over the next 18 months. The Conservatives want to regain public confidence before any national vote.
Recent polls put the Conservative Party at around 25% of the vote, a far cry from the 42.4% they won in December 2019, which gave then-leader Boris Johnson a governing majority in parliament.
The incumbent prime minister claimed she still had credibility during a four-question press conference on Friday when she announced Hunt’s appointment.