New UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has appointed Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the top position in cabinet. Hunt is an establishment figure and a longtime advocate of close UK-China relations. Given Britain’s current economic crisis, commenters widely agree that this makes Hunt, as the Economist put it, “prime minister in all but name.”
Hunt immediately went to work slashing nearly all of Truss’s proposed tax cuts and did the media rounds warning of imminent austerity. This is widely seen as a move to appease bond markets and central banks. Coupled with the damage done by lockdowns, this could be the final nail in the coffin for many of Britain’s small businesses.
Hunt explicitly reassured the Financial Times that Truss is still “in charge”—but the fact that he had to say so is something of a giveaway that most agree this is not the case.
Even more remarkable is that Hunt obtained his post at the head of Britain’s government “without a shred of democratic legitimacy.” Hunt lost the bid for PM to Boris Johnson in 2019, and his subsequent bid in 2022 gained the support of just 18 MPs. His career in high office seemed to be over.
Part of the reason Hunt’s 2022 bid imploded is that testimony and video surfaced of his praising China’s draconian “Zero Covid” and quarantine measures and advocating for the UK to emulate them. Hunt had likewise been a vocal proponent of lockdowns and vaccine mandates.
I very much agree with the central point in Gabriel’s paper that we should be aiming for zero infection and elimination of the disease…My sister lives in Beijing and she flew back to Beijing in the middle of lockdown and just to give you an idea of the contrast, she was escorted from the airport in Beijing to her home by Ministry of Health officials and then put into her home for two weeks’ quarantine. The door was sealed, and she had a police car sitting outside periodically.
Jeremy Hunt’s wife, Lucia Guo, is a Chinese native and presents a program for Chinese state media on Sky TV that whitewashes the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights record for a British audience. Hunt described his wife as his “secret weapon” as foreign secretary.
During Hong Kong’s widespread pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019, Hunt sided with the CCP, chastising Hong Kong’s protesters and accusing them of trying to provoke a “Tiananmen Square outcome” from the Chinese government. The Chinese government is currently under treaty with the UK guaranteeing Hong Kong’s political freedoms for 50 years.
Given Hunt is widely seen as having been placed at the head of the UK Government by the British political establishment, the choice of Hunt in particular, given his intimate Chinese relations, raises troubling questions about that establishment’s priorities. This is the same British political establishment that for some reason chose to appoint a 40-year member of the British Communist Party as a leading participant in the Government’s “nudge unit” to drive consent for Covid mandates.
Though evidence connecting Chinese political relations with global lockdowns technically remains “circumstantial”—as lockdown and China proponents are wont to point out—it’s a correlation that, as documented in Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World, continues to come up over and over and over again. As the saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me a hundred times…