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Jeremy Hunt: Chancellor who tried twice to win Tory crown

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has lost his seat (Aaron Chown/PA)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has lost his seat (Aaron Chown/PA)

Former chancellor Jeremy Hunt, one of the Conservative Party heavyweights who managed to hold onto his seat on election night, tried twice to become Tory leader.

He was responsible for controlling how the nation’s money was spent at a time of soaring living costs, taking on the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer after then Prime Minister Liz Truss’s mini-budget caused economic turmoil.

He has served as the MP for South West Surrey for nearly 20 years since 2005, and has won the new constituency of Godalming and Ash, narrowly beating the Liberal Democrats.

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London when Mr Johnson was announced as the new Conservative party leader
Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London when Mr Johnson was announced as the new Conservative Party leader in 2019 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Hunt’s attempts to take the Tory crown in 2019 were scuppered when Boris Johnson got the top job.

His referendum vote for the UK to remain in the EU was said to have worked against him .

He was also knocked out of the leadership race in 2022.

He backed Rishi Sunak over Ms Truss, and was later appointed Chancellor.

Culture secretary for the London 2012 Olympics, Mr Hunt went on to become the longest-serving health secretary from 2012-2018, engaging in a bitter and protracted bout of trench warfare with junior doctors before rising to foreign secretary when Mr Johnson stormed out of Cabinet over Brexit.

The then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the stands to watch the evening swimming session at the Aquatics Centre at the London Olympics
The then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the stands to watch the evening swimming session at the Aquatics Centre at the London Olympics (Tony Marshall/PA)

In 2018 when he was foreign secretary, he embarrassingly got his wife Lucia’s nationality wrong during a meeting in Beijing, saying: “My wife is Japanese … my wife is Chinese. Sorry, that’s a terrible mistake to make.”

Like Mr Johnson, the then foreign secretary refused to call then US president Donald Trump racist for telling four Democratic US congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from, even though all were American and only one was born overseas.

Instead, Mr Hunt said: “I have three half-Chinese children and if anyone ever said to them ‘go back to China’, I would be utterly appalled.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s wife Lucia Hunt and their children watch as he leaves 11 Downing Street before the Budget in 2023
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s wife Lucia Hunt and their children watch as he leaves 11 Downing Street before the Budget in 2023 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Self-made millionaire Mr Hunt was a keen fan of the lambada, describing it as an “intimate dance”.

The Chancellor has a distinctly privileged background.

His father, Sir Nicholas Hunt, was an admiral, and he was educated at the prestigious Charterhouse school before reading politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.

When drug use briefly dominated the early stages of the leadership race, Mr Hunt volunteered: “I think I had a cannabis lassi when I went backpacking through India.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt leaves 11 Downing Street with his ministerial box before the 2024 Budget
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt leaves 11 Downing Street with his ministerial box before the 2024 Budget (James Manning/PA)

He then added “that is almost as naughty as wheat fields”, in a reference to Theresa May’s much ridiculed claim that the naughtiest thing she had ever done was run through crops in the countryside.

Before entering Parliament, Mr Hunt had a career as an English teacher in Japan and as an entrepreneur.

In 2009, he was ordered to repay more than £9,500 in second home expenses after a sleaze watchdog found him in breach of Commons rules.

He had allowed his agent to stay rent-free in the taxpayer-subsidised home.