Get the House In Order: Tories Need More Time as Hunt Hints at General Election Date

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s remarks hinting at an October general election, alongside fiscal considerations and diplomatic engagements, have led to more questions than answers over the timing of the coming general election. Here’s the full story.

Moving On

The Conservatives have been desperate to move on from a week of scandal, plots and disappointing economic realities. Without any significant policy announcements or successes to unveil, the party of government has resorted to dropping hints like a musician previewing the launch of their upcoming single. 

In an attempt to distract from the slow-motion car crash that is discipline in the Conservative Party, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has signalled that the general election might occur in October. 

Timing Is Everything

During a session in the House of Lords, Hunt indicated that the Treasury would require time to review Whitehall budgets before the commencement of the next financial year in April, making October the last feasible window for holding an election. He stated, “This particular spending review has to be completed before next April when the next financial year starts. And if the general election is in October, that will mean it’s very, very tight.”

The urgency for a review of Whitehall budgets stems from their agreement for three years in 2021. Departments have been awaiting a review since last year to provide them with some degree of financial certainty for the forthcoming years. This review is crucial for clarifying departmental incomes for at least the subsequent five years.

European Summit

The announcement that Rishi Sunak will host a European summit in July adds further intrigue to speculation surrounding the timing of a potential general election. Scheduled for July 18th at Blenheim Palace, this European Political Community gathering (EPC) summit signals that an election may be called after July. 

Jeremy Hunt also hinted at a possible freeze on fuel duty and expressed his intention to hold another fiscal event, which is expected to be a budget, before any election could occur. 

Under intensive peer questioning, Hunt defended his plans, stating, “I know people call it a fiction. I don’t accept that, actually. It’s a decision that we take at every budget.”

He continued, “I can be quite open with you and say that I hope that if I do another fiscal event this parliament and, indeed, if I am returned as a chancellor after the next election, I would hope to continue to freeze fuel duty. But I would take that decision based on the public finances at the time. It is not something that is pre-decided.”

£5 Billion

Perhaps due to the uncertainty surrounding whether or not he would be returned to parliament in the next election, Hunt did not mention the significant financial implications of a fuel duty freeze, which would cost £5 billion over the five-year term of any new budget.

During his statement to the Lords, Hunt also acknowledged that higher-than-expected immigration has increased the costs of providing state services, adding to department budgetary constraints. However, he attempted to put a good spin on the news by suggesting that this would lead to more schemes to improve productivity in government departments. 

The Buck Stops at Number 10

The delay in setting a date for the EPC meeting was blamed on uncertainties within No 10 over when to call the upcoming election. In private, European diplomats have expressed consternation that the summit’s timing was dependent on the whims of the Prime Minister, who’s attempting to improve his election chances by postponing it. 

The EPC, initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, serves as a platform for addressing pan-European challenges such as the conflict in Ukraine. Following previous sessions in the Czech Republic, Moldova, and Spain, this upcoming meeting will mark the fourth gathering.

At the last EPC meeting in Spain, Prime Minister Sunak collaborated with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to prioritize discussions on illegal migration, a hot-button issue for both right-wing Prime Ministers with their domestic audiences.

“An Important Forum”

Sunak said, “It is an important forum for cooperation across the whole of Europe on the issues that are affecting us all, threatening our security and prosperity.”

He continued, “From putting our full support behind Ukraine to stopping the scourge of people-smuggling and illegal migration, under the UK’s leadership, the meeting will bring together our European friends, partners, and neighbours to address our shared challenges.”

When is the Election? 

Despite the breadcrumbs being dropped by Hunt and Sunak, the question of the timing of the general election still looms large over all the political discussions taking place in the UK.

Though the Conservatives hope to distract from many scandals affecting the party, the election announcement will continue to haunt them until they decide to let the public know precisely when it will occur.

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The post Get the House In Order: Tories Need More Time as Hunt Hints at General Election Date first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alexandros Michailidis.

Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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