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Hunt will be Chancellor at time of election, Sunak says

Jeremy Hunt will still be Chancellor at the time of the general election expected later this year, Rishi Sunak has said.

The Prime Minister said his finance minister was doing a “fantastic job” at managing the economy after mounting speculation ahead of the spring Budget about how long he will last in the post.

Asked on a visit to Buckinghamshire whether Mr Hunt would remain in his position at the time of the election, Mr Sunak told broadcasters: “Yes, and I’ve said that multiple times, it’s not new information.”

He added: “We’d like to do more when it is responsible to do so, but as we saw with the latest inflation data, inflation doesn’t fall in a straight line, it isn’t a given, there’s still work to do, and that’s why it’s important we stick to the plan so we can build a society where everyone’s hard work is rewarded.”

Reports last year suggested Mr Hunt would stay for the autumn statement and the Budget but that there was a question mark over his longer-term future in the role.

A Number 10 source told The Times and The Sun at the time: “The Chancellor will be delivering the autumn statement in a few weeks’ time and the Budget next spring.”

Mr Sunak has until January 2025 to hold an election but has said he is working towards a vote in the second half of 2024.

Mr Hunt compared himself to tax-cutting former chancellor Nigel Lawson over the weekend as he and the Prime Minister dangled the prospect of further giveaways in the fiscal event on March 6.

In an op-ed for the Mail on Sunday, he insisted the Government’s “plan is working” and likened his record to that of the late party grandee, who slashed personal taxation while serving in the Thatcher government.

Writing for online site ConservativeHome, Mr Hunt similarly pitched himself as a low-tax Chancellor.

In an op-ed for the website, he said: “I recently asked my Treasury officials to do a detailed analysis of the correlation between taxes and growth, and the answer came back clearly – something we Conservatives have always known.

“Across the G7, across the G20, across the last 10 years or last 25 years: lower taxed economies have seen higher growth, and higher taxed economies have seen lower growth. It’s why we’ve brought taxes down, wherever and whenever we responsibly could. You can see it in our track record after our repair job on the public finances from 2010, and you’ll see it as we emerge from the turbulence of recent years.

“Not just because it’s right, but because it’s the only path to a sustainably higher growth economy.

That will be our stall come the election.”

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Darren Jones said: “Jeremy Hunt’s words will read hollow to the millions of people who have been left worse off after 14 years of economic failure.”