Chancellors Never To Deliver A Budget
It has been an interesting few months in British politics, especially for UK chancellors as well as prime ministers, and by interesting, we mean in-fighting, confusion, turmoil, backtracking, resignations, sackings, and reinstatements. We have had three prime ministers in almost as many months, with the ill-fated Liz Truss lasting just 44 days.
We have also had a succession of chancellors fail to deliver a budget. And, as chancellors are the people in charge of the country’s finances, that’s kind of a key part of their job. Before Kwasi Kwarteng and Nadhim Zahawi, the only other chancellor to fail to deliver a budget was Ian Macleod and he died suddenly a month into office, so never got the chance!
Before we delve into the current chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and whether his budget really was a budget, let’s take a look at his predecessors and how they fared.
Jeremy Hunt is the fourth chancellor of the exchequer to serve the United Kingdom in the past four months, following in the footsteps of Rishi Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi, and Kwasi Kwarteng. This has never happened before in the history of the United Kingdom.
Liz Truss named Kwasi Kwarteng as UK chancellor, and he started working on a mini-budget. As a result, the government cut taxes by £45 billion without having a plan for how to pay for it. The financial markets were thrown into disarray as a result, and the value of the pound dropped to its lowest point in forty years. In short, his mini-budget was a bit of a disaster.
Liz Truss called him back from a trip and promptly sacked him, taking some huge U-turns to try and salvage the mess. This was the beginning of the end for Ms. Truss. Mr. Kwarteng was succeeded by Jeremy Hunt, who disregarded his ‘budget’ in its entirety.
Boris Johnson appointed Nadhim Zahwai as UK Chancellor in June 2022 and was the second shortest-serving chancellor since the start of the 20th century. He lasting just 62 days. Iain Macleod was the shortest. He really only was an interim chancellor, holding down the fort until the next prime minister came in and reshuffled her cabinet. He didn’t get an opportunity to deliver a budget during his short tenure in office.
Is Jeremy Hunt’s budget really a budget?
Jeremy Hunt’s winter statement was a budget in all but name. So for the purposes of this article we can say that he is not the third Chancellor in a row (and the fourth of all time) not to deliver a budget. He has attempted to fill a gaping hole in the nation’s budgets—to a tune of £60 billion. The hefty tax hikes, a slash in energy bill support, and huge spending cuts. It’s was not a budget that anyone looked forward to. You can see the full autumn statement here.
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