Jeremy Hunt’s Hypothetical Cabinet
In my last article, I put forward some suggestions for who might fill some of the top government jobs under the leadership of Boris Johnson, should he win the leadership contest in a few weeks. Some suggestions seemed rather reasonable, while others were deliberately ridiculous. Following a similar theme, I would now like to propose some names for the top jobs in Jeremy Hunt’s hypothetical government. Whilst Johnson has maintained a commanding lead in the polls, Hunt has gained the support of some high-profile colleagues, including William Hague. Therefore, it’s still worth looking at what a possible Jeremy Hunt-led government would look like.
Current occupant: Stephen Barclay.
Potential successor: Liam Fox
An almost-complete change in the composition of the Cabinet looks likely, and because of that I think Stephen Barclay will be moved aside. To replace him, I put forward Liam Fox. Liam Fox has been previously associated as one of the leading figures of Brexit in the immediate aftermath of 2016, alongside the likes of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, and David Davis. However, Fox has remained rather distant from the core process of Brexit, opting to focus on securing trade deals with nations around the world once his colleagues in government and Parliament have brought an end to negotiations. Despite his backing of Brexit, he has recently come out and criticised Johnson’s Brexit planand was one of the MPs to support Theresa May’s Brexit deal. With this in mind, combined with his experience in international trade and his continued presence at the heart of the party, I think that Fox wouldn’t be an unrealistic option. He would be able to coerce some of his more Brexit-leaning colleagues to get behind Hunt, who would try to unite the party in a similar fashion to Theresa May, and he would seek to complete the Brexit process with a deal – something Hunt really wants to do, though he has said that he would be prepared for a no-deal if necessary.
Current occupant: Philip Hammond.
Potential successor: Amber Rudd
Philip Hammond has been the Chancellor now for three years and has overseen Britain’s economic changes since the immediate aftermath of Brexit. However much he may be more in line with Hunt’s way of thinking compared to Johnson’s, I still think it’s almost certain he will be moved aside under either candidate. And I would, with some degree of doubt, put forward Amber Rudd as his successor. I say reluctant because whilst I recognise that she has quickly become a leading voice among One-Nation Tories and has regained her place in the Cabinetfollowing her resignation as Home Secretary last year, the reason why she left her role, that being the Windrush scandal, might be more of a negative than a positive. The fallout angered many and won few friends, and her not just remaining in the Cabinet, but being promoted, might weigh Hunt down in his attempts to unite the country. Perhaps another shortfall is her vulnerable position as an MP, too. Her majority stands at just under 350 votes, and with the volatility of Britain’s political climate being so high, she could easily lose her seat if the party continues to not impress nationally. But from a party perspective, it could be an ideal move. Her support for Hunt created headlines because she has become a key figure in the party in recent months, and many believed she would back Johnson as part of a “dream-team alliance”, which of course never happened. The support Hunt received, plus their close political relationship across many years, might just earn her arguably the top spot in the Cabinet besides the role of PM. She said that he “backed me and now I back him”. That could bring her a return to the top of government.
Current occupant: Jeremy Hunt
Potential successor: Rory Stewart
Now, of course, Jeremy Hunt cannot possibly be the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary – or can he? No, he won’t. So, somebody needs to replace him. And in this case, I would put forward Rory Stewart. The former leadership candidate seems like a fitting person to take such a high-profile position for a number of reasons. First and foremost, he does have experience in international affairs, having joined the Foreign Office after graduating from university and worked there for several years before becoming an MP in 2010. Another reason to consider is his upsurge in popularity during the contest. Whilst he was eventually knocked out, Stewart did progress into the third round ahead of arguably more notable rivals such as Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary; in the end, he secured the backing of 14 MPsincluding David Lidington, the deputy PM. and created an impression that he could appeal to “moderates” outside the party. Amongst conservative voters, it might be more difficult to gauge where he stands in terms of popularity, but his personality and experience might just earn him the role of Foreign Secretary under Jeremy Hunt.
Current occupant: Sajid Javid
Potential successor: Sajid Javid
I did say at the beginning of the article that there would be an almost-complete change in the Cabinet, and I stand by that. But the only position I don’t want to change is at the Home Office. Sajid Javid, for me, is likely to feature in both candidates’ governments one way or another. And in this case, I think he’ll stay exactly where he is. He has gained a reasonable amount of support within the party, culminating in his leadership bid which while now at an end, earned him a good number of backers, and his backing of Johnson might be key to Hunt as in this scenario – Hunt as PM will want to unify the party as best as he can. You might think that bringing Johnson into the fold might be easier and given that Hunt has previously said he would be willing to incorporate Johnson into his government, I don’t think it would mean a top job. Javid is the unifier in this scenario and will be important in easing tensions that will likely surface following the end of this leadership contest. He stays where he is, in my scenario. Sorry, Boris (not really).
There you have it. That is my hypothetical Cabinet under Jeremy Hunt. This will be the Cabinet that “turbocharges” the economy and reflects his previous experience as an entrepreneur. Did you know he’s an entrepreneur? He likes to make that very well known. Nevertheless, this could be the Cabinet that unifies the party and seeks a Brexit deal over a no-deal, while taking the country into a post-Brexit world that we’re all looking forward to, right? His chances of winning the contest at this point may still be rather slim, considering that whilst Johnson has had some controversial moments during his campaign, he still has the backing of most members according to recent polls, but #HastobeHunt might just pull through at the end and give us the entrepreneurial turbocharger that is Jeremy Hunt.
…. did you know he was an entrepreneur?