Rishi Sunak will seek to refocus attention on the economy this week amid questions about how long his chancellor will remain in post.

Downing Street issued a statement in October saying: “The chancellor will be delivering the autumn statement in a few weeks’ time and the budget next spring.”

The latest Politics at Jack and Sam’s podcast episode discusses how, since then, Mr Sunak has clarified the election will not be until the second half of the year.

The preferred polling day is not thought to be until November, meaning there are now several months and possibly a further financial statement before polling day.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks with Eastleigh FC players and staff during a visit to Silverlake Stadium, in Eastleigh, Hampshire. Picture date: Friday January 19, 2024.
Image:
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

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This carefully worded statement, given by Number 10 sources amid speculation at the chancellor’s future in the autumn to The Times and The Sun, appeared to open the door to Jeremy Hunt being replaced after the spring budget.

Clare Coutinho, a close ally of Mr Sunak who was recently made energy secretary, is thought to be amongst the potential candidates, although others worry she does not have the experience.

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Mr Hunt is now preparing the spring budget apparently not knowing whether it will be his last. He has insisted he will stand again in his Surrey seat at the election.

Sky News revealed last year there were questions by some around Mr Sunak whether Mr Hunt should continue in post. These claims were denied by Number 10 and he remained in post in the November reshuffle last year.

The Politics at Jack and Sam’s podcast also reveals concerns that the unusual strategy of talking up tax cuts may end up setting expectations too high.

The Treasury has not yet received its first preliminary forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility, the financial watchdog, about how much money he may have to spend in the 6 March event.

Each penny on income tax would cost £7bn, and the latest report by Capital Economics suggested the chancellor may have around £14bn to spend.



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