Jeremy Hunt may not enjoy the fruits of his good fortune
It was Napoleon who asked for lucky rather than good generals.
There is every sign that Jeremy Hunt is turning into a lucky Chancellor. Only time will tell whether he is a good one too.
Cash rained down on the Treasury in January thanks to rising wages and frozen tax thresholds that cascaded millions of workers into higher tax brackets. Hunt was also helped by the rapid easing in gas prices that is reducing the cost of the energy guarantee.
It is the first sign that the public finances that were threatening to run out of control last year are slowly stabilising.
There will be much talk of wiggle room for tax giveaways next month and Hunt is sure to throw a symbolic fiscal bone to his Trussite critics.
But I suspect he will largely stick to the programme as the economic outlook, though improving, is still far from certain.
A bigger giveway that can be billed as “responsible” seems more likely in the run-up to a general election late next year.
It may well end up Jeremy Hunt’s fate to be the Ken Clarke de nos jours: a lucky and, yes, perhaps half-decent Chancellor who cleaned up the fiscal Augean Stables for an incoming Labour administration to reap the benefit of all the hard yards.
Clarke’s competence gave Blair and Brown an extraordinary economic springboard when they arrived in Downing Street in May 1997 that ultimately propelled them to three election victories on the trot.
In the same way, Hunt’s good fortune may well turn out to be more for Keir Starmer’s benefit than Rishi Sunak’s.