George Osborne returns as Jeremy Hunt holds talks with ex-Chancellor

PMQs: Rishi Sunak’s first opening statement as PM

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Former Chancellor George Osborne has been consulted by Jeremy Hunt as he looks to make severe public spending cuts to balance the books. The once right-hand man of David Cameron and architect of the notorious Project Fear Brexit budget spoke to the Chancellor yesterday.

He was pictured grinning as he entered the rear of Downing Street.

When he was in charge, Mr Osborne oversaw the wave of austerity measures introduced following the 2008 financial crisis.

Mr Hunt sought his advice as he prepares to announce a series of fuelling spending cuts and tax rises next months.

It is thought the Chancellor is preparing for £50billion in cuts after being given weak economic forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The current incumbent at the Treasury also spoke to his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng, whose mini-budget sparked the financial turmoil that forced Liz Truss from office.

Sajid Javid and Lord Hammond are also expected to be consulted as the Chancellor looks to draw upon years of experience to help make his decisions.

Earlier this week Mr Hunt warned “it is going to be tough” in months ahead.

After being asked to continue serving as Chancellor by Rishi Sunak he said in a statement: “Protecting the vulnerable – and people’s jobs, mortgages and bills – will be at the front of our minds as we work to restore stability, confidence and long-term growth.”

The Budget had been set to be delivered on Monday but was delayed from Halloween to November 17 earlier this week in order to allow more time to pour over the data.

Mr Hunt said on Wednesday: “I want to confirm that it will demonstrate debt falling over the medium term which is really important for people to understand.

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“But it is also extremely important that that statement is based on the most accurate possible economic forecasts and forecasts of public finances.

“And for that reason the Prime Minister and I have decided it is prudent to make that statement on November 17 when it will be upgraded to a full autumn statement.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that many departments’ spending budgets are still far below their 2010 levels in real terms.

Some budgets are as much as 25 percent lower, making further savings hard to come by.

As well as departmental cuts, both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have refused to commit to the triple lock on pensions, meaning millions could face real-terms cuts in April, as inflation soars past 10 percent.

The pledge of defence spending increasing to three percent of GDP by 2030 is also under review.

Meanwhile, plans to uplift benefits in line with inflation set out by Mr Sunak when he was in No11 could also be ditched.

Mr Hunt admitted he was “willing to make choices that are politically embarrassing if they’re the right thing to do for the country”.

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