IN A little-noticed announcement last week, Jeremy Hunt was installed as chairman of the Cabinet’s Home Affairs Committee, a Cabinet committee dealing with most Home Affairs matters, but which doesn’t include the Prime Minister. The Home Secretary is a subordinate member of the committee so any proposals she comes up with presumably have to go through Hunt first. He was already a prominent member of the Domestic and Economic Affairs Committee that deals with economic, trade, business and agriculture matters. Crucially, energy, climate and Net Zero have now been added to its remit following the dissolution of the Climate Committee.
The continued rise of Hunt, probably one of the most unpopular politicians in the UK, is curious. A lot of his most recent notoriety comes from a creepy interview in 2020 when he extolled the Chinese Communist Party’s lockdown measures, including making a point about them putting his sister in a sealed room for two weeks with guards posted outside when she arrived back in the country in 2020.
He was definitively rejected in two Conservative leadership elections, trailing in a long way last in the most recent (I’m discounting the manoeuvring of Sunak into No 10 and the last-minute withdrawal of Johnson from that race – though that indeed only adds to the mystery). Then when the new Truss administration was unravelling Hunt, despite not being a known Truss supporter, was suddenly installed from nowhere as her Chancellor. When Sunak’s coup, for that was what it amounted to, succeeded, his first move as PM was to confirm Hunt as Chancellor.
Meanwhile what of Hunt’s notional master, the Prime Minister? Having declared that he was too busy to go to COP27, he not only changes his mind at the 11th hour but makes an extraordinary declaration and commitment.
As Hunt is about to announce his eye-watering taxation increases and cuts to public spending, Sunak declares from COP27 a commitment for the UK to spend £11.6billion on ‘Climate Finance’, £1.5billion for Pakistan and Somalia, £65.5million for Kenya and Egypt, £150million on the Congo and Amazon, £65.5million on Clean Energy Innovation and £3billion on Nairobi’s Railway City and Hydro Power project.
This expenditure is apparently in the name of ‘Climate Justice’, a loaded term being used to justify the countries at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution having a historic liability to pay compensation to the Third World countries which were left behind. The reality, however, is that the Industrial Revolution gave us the means by which the modern world can exist, the capacity to produce modern energy, the digital economy, consumer goods, manufacturing, international travel, the meeting of medical needs, and much else. And if anyone bore the brunt, it was the British people, including children, working very long arduous hours in coal and tin mines, wool and cotton mills, iron and steel works and other manufacturing industries. If anything the British are owed a debt of thanks, not vilification.
However by agreeing to the fake ‘Climate Reparations’ narrative instead of decisively rejecting it, and without even a sniff of a debate about it, Sunak leaves the UK open to financing all kinds of dubious liabilities in the future to an unlimited extent.
Be ready in years to come for the usual political weasel words about international agreements and treaty obligations being quoted so that this subject, just like the numerous ‘migration pacts’, become untouchable policies which can never be rolled back, regardless of the circumstances. But then why would Sunak himself care about the UK’s future and its commitments? A man with family origins in other countries, who for some years had a prized Green Card allowing him to live and work in the US, whose wealthy wife has enjoyed non-domiciliary status in the UK, and who owns a property in California. Is a person with such an international background likely to feel the same attachment to the UK as the rest of us when he can easily hop on a plane and live elsewhere in foreign properties he already owns? I wonder.
Don’t expect any respite from a future Labour Government either. They were at the forefront of those calling for Sunak to attend COP27 and if anything would want to outdo the current administration in chucking our money away.
This Government is entitled to govern for as long as it commands a majority in the House of Commons until the final date for another General Election arrives. However it is making far-reaching decisions about our lifestyles and future prosperity that were never issues at the last General Election. This is compounded by its being composed of very different personnel from those who were in place in December 2019.
There may be no troops on the streets but a coup has taken place in everything but name. An administration not in post at the last General Election, with a leader not elected by its own party members, carrying out draconian policies for which it has no mandate that will make us all poorer for years to come. Is it all really at the behest of a majority of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, or are there other forces at work? And who does Hunt derive his power from? I wonder.
This article appeared on Patrick Clarke’s Column on November 8, 2022, and is republished by kind permission.