Chancellor Hunt has told his supporters that rumours he intends to quit before the general election are “nonsense and wildly exaggerated.”
Rumours of his departure before the next General Election are “exaggerated”, say his supporters in the SW Surrey constituency. The constituency he leaves behind to fight his old adversary, Lib Dem Paul Follows for the new constituency of Godalming & Ash, which includes Cranleigh & the eastern villages of Waverley.
South West Surrey MP and ‘Mary Poppins” Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has emphatically denied reports suggesting he intends to stand down and avoid going head-to-head with Lib Dem hopeful Paul Follows.
Rumours have been swirling among Surrey Conservatives and at Westminster amid cataclysmic predictions of a wipeout for several serving cabinet ministers after more than 13 years in power. It was believed that Mr Hunt wanted to avoid the ignominy of returning the Ministerial car for the back benches, preferring to pick up a bit of ermine and become Lord Hunt of Mares Pond.
One former minister said that with a Labour government in prospect, the options for Hunt of fighting the new seat were not attractive, whether he won or lost: “Barring a miracle [of the Tories winning and forming another government], I can’t see Jeremy wanting to be in opposition under a new leader. And if he loses, he will be the biggest scalp on election night. That is not a departure anyone would want. People in Surrey are saying he will not stand.”
The Guardian’s claim of a potential ‘Michael Portillo’ moment, referencing the former MP’s unexpected defeat in the 1997 election, has been labelled as “nonsense” by Mr Hunt himself. Had he remained in his old SW Surrey seat, he would be defending a majority of 8,817.
Mr Hunt confirmed his commitment to the new constituency despite the challenges posed by boundary changes, saying:
“It is my hope that Parliament will have the misfortune of my presence for many years to come”.
The chancellor will be pitched against his old adversary, Waverley’s Lib Dem leader Paul Follows, if he does stand – with Cllr Follows pledging to…
“ensure the Portillo moment in the public mindset will become the Hunt moment.” Whether it’s Hunt or someone else, #GodalmingandAsh is crying out for change.
What I can say for sure tonight is this – I will definitely be on the ballot. What about you?