Liz Truss’ big economic turnaround on Friday followed a well-trodden path to humiliation.

Downing Street spokesmen and cabinet ministers had already lined up to say any move to scrap its unfunded tax cuts was unthinkable and capitulation unimaginable. The markets responded by selling the pound and dumping the gilts. Number 10 replied that her chancellor was doing an “excellent job”, that she had “full confidence”, etc. Markets hit the leading UK indicators again. Soon the game was over.

On Friday, the Prime Minister duly made his strident U-turn but refused to resign. Instead, she threw her Chancellor and ideological soul mate, Kwasi Kwarteng, to the wolves and chose a stable old man from the political center of the Conservative Party, Jeremy Hunt, to replace him.

The situation is serious, but is it hopeless? The Prime Minister is now abandoning the main elements of his libertarian program. She says her “vision remains,” but survival must come first. The only man who can save her now is Hunt. As often in the past, the relationship between No. 10 and No. 11 Downing Street will be crucial.

In recent decades, there have been few disputes between these government neighbors that have resulted in dismissals or resignations. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown may have been rivals, but their partnership was long and fruitful before it turned into a simmering Cold War. David Cameron and George Osborne have kept all differences secret except for the decision to call a referendum on EU membership. However, in a throwback to the bad old days of the 1950s to the early 1990s, Boris Johnson managed to lose two chancellors in succession. The resignation of his second in command, Rishi Sunak, precipitated the fall of the former prime minister at the start of the summer.

If history is to be believed, Hunt as chancellor could still save Truss’s skin.

Harold Wilson, Britain’s most economically educated prime minister since World War II, for example, wasted enormous political capital defending the value of the pound. Then in 1967 he devalued the pound, announcing “it won’t affect the pound in your pocket”. He ousted his chancellor and appointed a fiscally conservative replacement, Roy Jenkins, and survived in office for another three years – although he still looked nervously over his shoulder at his ambitious new neighbor in the Treasury.

In 1992, it was the turn of a Conservative Prime Minister, John Major, to defend the value of the pound sterling in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Major burned billions to support the pound but lost its bet against the markets. His eurosceptic chancellor Norman Lamont recklessly let it be known that he was “singing in the bath” after the U-turn and was dismissed. Major’s personal authority was shot down, but his government faltered to complete a full term. Meanwhile, its boisterous new chancellor, Ken Clarke, has kept the show on the road by stabilizing the economy.

Yet Truss’s fate is more perilous than that of any of his U-turn predecessors, even though his party holds a notional 70-seat majority in the House of Commons.

Unlike Wilson and Major, who had previously triumphed at the polls, this prime minister has no electoral mandate for his libertarian prospectus. She won the support of a majority of party members, not Tory MPs, to become leader. Truss has held the top job for about 40 days, and her Chancellor’s far from “mini” budget of unfunded tax cuts has bombarded markets and opinion polls.

The government has a maximum of two years before its time runs out, but the prime minister could struggle to survive the discontent of his MPs until next month. Even one of his most vocal supporters, the Daily Mail, began its lead editorial on Friday by observing that Truss may soon have the dubious distinction of being the shortest Prime Minister ever, undermining the record of George Canning of 119 days.

Many Tory MPs dream of crowning Truss’ closest rivals, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (in either order) without prolonged competition among the whole members. Although another leadership coup would install the fifth Conservative prime minister in six years, fear of electoral oblivion has the parliamentary party considering desperate measures.

Hunt will now write off a number of big ticket items before what remains of Kwarteng’s mini-budget is returned for inspection to the Office of Budget Responsibility this month – including the £18bn plan (20 $.1 billion) aimed at reversing planned corporate tax increases that were the centerpiece of his boss’ leadership campaign and in effect his own bid for power in the same contest. The markets had already baked in capitulation.

Truss declares herself a follower of Margaret Thatcher, but unlike the Iron Lady, she is made of a more flexible material. The Prime Minister will acquiesce to every concession. She dropped the controversial proposal to cut income tax brackets for the wealthy just three days after Kwarteng announced it in the House of Commons. And now she has also given up on Kwarteng.

What remains of Truss’ mantra “grow, grow, grow”? With deadly effect, Major was accused of being in power but not in power after the ERM debacle. Has the Prime Minister also become a figurehead?

Its fate is now in the hands of its well-spoken Chancellor. Although he is a free-trader by conviction, a big plus for Hunt is that he understands the importance of empathy. I have seen him as Health Secretary show immense concern for the families of victims of medical malpractice and poor maternity care. Contrast that with Truss’ failure to recognize the cost to homeowners of the spike in mortgage bills that followed the mini-budget.

Hunt will command some respect from fellow parliamentarians for his seniority and experience, but they are surly and divided. The chancellor voted for the UK to stay in Europe in the referendum (as did her born-again eurosceptic boss), so the party right will be wary.

Hunt only has a few days to make his mark. It’s not mission impossible, but unless he calms the storm, his own tenure could prove as truncated as Truss’s.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Martin Ivens is the editor of the Times Literary Supplement. Previously, he was editor of the Sunday Times of London and its main political commentator.

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