The soft-spoken survivor takes on the toughest role

The soft-spoken survivor takes on the toughest role


Newly appointed UK Treasury Secretary Jeremy Hunt is a mild-mannered political survivor who will need all his considerable experience to calm a chaos-ridden economy and government.

Hunt, 55, was Health Secretary under David Cameron and Foreign Secretary under Theresa May but found himself on the sidelines after Boris Johnson defeated him to become party leader in 2019.

After another failed leadership attempt this year after Johnson’s passing, Hunt suddenly finds himself in the middle of an economic and political storm.

Pressured Prime Minister Liz Truss called him “one of the most experienced and respected government ministers and parliamentarians”.

“He will advance our mission to work toward growth, including the supply-side reforms our country needs,” she said on Friday.

Hunt hails from the center of the Conservative Party, and his appointment shows Truss wants to placate those MPs who are already planning to remove them after their tax cut budget sparked market chaos.

He saw uninterrupted Cabinet service from Tory victory in 2010 to his leadership defeat in 2019.

In government he oversaw the London 2012 Olympics, was Britain’s longest-serving Secretary of Health and proved a steady hand as Britain’s top diplomat.

A stay-at-home supporter, Hunt was relegated to the back benches when Johnson, who supported Brexit, took charge despite chairing the influential Health and Welfare Committee trying to hold the government accountable during the pandemic.

However, he has also been criticized for his pandemic planning as health chief.

As culture, media and sport secretary, he was under intense pressure to resign in 2012 because of his contacts with Rupert Murdoch during a phone-hacking scandal involving the mogul’s media empire.

Hunt prevailed, however, and the press ethics inquest exonerated him of his bias against Murdoch’s News Corporation in its attempt to take over BSkyB.

– Surrey, Oxford and Japan –

Hunt was promoted to health secretary, one of the toughest jobs in the cabinet at the time as the government implemented protracted austerity measures in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of National Health Service workers went on strike in 2014 for the first time in 32 years after Hunt rejected a general pay rise.

But he remained in the role when May took charge after the 2016 vote to leave the EU, and only left when Johnson left the Foreign Office in July 2018 over May’s Brexit policy.

As Secretary of State, Hunt led peace talks in Yemen.

Born on 1 November 1966, Hunt is the eldest son of Admiral Nicholas Hunt, who was Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 1985 to 1987, one of the most senior positions in the Royal Navy.

Hunt grew up in Godalming, south-west of London, and now represents the local constituency of South West Surrey in Parliament.

He was educated at Charterhouse, a prestigious private school.

Hunt went to Oxford University, where he first became politically active as President of the Conservative Association and was a contemporary of Johnson and Cameron.

He graduated with a first in philosophy, politics and economics.

– Big Rice –

After graduating, Hunt worked as a management consultant and later as an English teacher in Japan. He is now fluent in Japanese.

Hunt had a successful career as an entrepreneur.

He created Hotcourses, which connects prospective students with universities and colleges.

Selling his stake made him a sterling multi-millionaire. In 2005 he was elected to Parliament.

He served as culture, media and sports spokesman for the Conservatives in opposition, before taking office as foreign minister when his party took office in 2010.

He is married to Lucia who is from China. They have a son and two daughters.

They first met through Hotcourses when she was a student recruiter at Warwick University. They married within a year in 2009.

She told The Mail on Sunday newspaper that he calls her ‘Precious’ and she calls him ‘Big Rice’ – based on her grandmother’s mispronunciation of Jeremy.

“He’s kind, he’s always generous, he cares about his family and he’s very strong,” she said.

Shortly after his appointment as Secretary of State, Hunt made perhaps his biggest mistake when, on a visit to China, he accidentally called his wife Japanese.

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