The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has one chance and one chance only to reset government policy and re-establish confidence in the governments economic policy. It is a an enormous responsibility. The Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet are merely bystanders as Mr Hunt works on his measures. Do too little and confidence will not return. Do too much and he will spook the markets and Westminster colleagues alike, and confidence will not return. Confidence is an intangible but substantive thing. We know it when we see it, but it can’t always be just summoned up. Hunt has said he will present his Budget at the end of the month. Well maybe he will and maybe he won’t. If the markets react badly to further delay and instability then he may well be forced to deliver his statement sooner. The government, at this point, is not in charge of events.
His predecessor’s mini-budget in any normal year, given enough preparing of the political ground, should not really have been at all remarkable. This, though, is not a normal year. Nor even is it a normal era. It took an enormous amount of effort by the Cameron government to repair the economic damage wrought by Gordon Brown’s government. Barely had this work delivered some much needed stability than Britain Brexited, causing more years of instability and uncertainty in the process. On top of Brexit, we then endured the enormous financial cost of the pandemic, which is still being felt in levels of borrowing, hospital waiting lists, the incidence of mental health suffering, and other areas. In fifteen years we have undergone three seismic shocks to our economy and our society.