Rishi Sunak Keeps Jeremy Hunt as UK Chancellor

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain said on Tuesday that he was keeping Jeremy Hunt as chancellor of the Exchequer, a decision that had been widely expected because it is likely to soothe financial markets.

Mr. Hunt, a former foreign minister who is considered to be from the center of the Conservative Party, is Britain’s fourth chancellor since July, but he has a long record in government.

In one measure of the dizzying pace of recent events in British politics, he is viewed as a bastion of continuity for economic policymaking — even though he was first appointed to the job just 11 days ago in a bid by Mr. Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, to restore market confidence.

His appointment followed the economic turmoil that arose under his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng. On Sept. 26, Britain’s currency fell briefly to its weakest level on record against the U.S. dollar as global investors rejected plans for tax cuts and borrowing announced days earlier by Mr. Kwarteng. Traders also dumped other British assets, sending the yields on government bonds to new highs and prompting the Bank of England to intervene in subsequent days.

Ms. Truss abruptly fired Mr. Kwarteng, a close political ally who had been in the job for just 38 days, and appointed Mr. Hunt. Days later, he swept away much of her free-market agenda, including scrapping planned tax cuts, with a set of policies that immediately calmed financial markets but weakened his boss politically.

At the time, commentators said that he, rather than Ms. Truss, had effectively become the most powerful person in the government because of his control over economic policy. She announced her resignation last Thursday.

From 2018 to 2019, Mr. Hunt served as foreign secretary, having previously run the health and culture ministries. As culture minister, he oversaw the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. During the coronavirus pandemic, he used his position as chair of a parliamentary health committee to scrutinize government health policy.

Before this latest contest, he ran for the party leadership twice: first in 2019, when he finished second to Boris Johnson and then this July, when he was eliminated in the first round, gaining just 18 votes from Conservative colleagues. He went on to endorse Mr. Sunak, Mr. Johnson’s chancellor, for leader.

In the past few days, when the leadership role fell vacant again after the decision by Ms. Truss to resign, he, crucially, endorsed Mr. Sunak.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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