It took the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt exactly 17 seconds to tell listeners to Radio 2’s The Jeremy Vine Show that he, the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt, is an entrepreneur. Not bad, but a long way shy of his personal best.
If the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt really was the risk taker he wants you to believe he is, he would have just shouted “I’m an entrepreneur! I’m an entrepreneur!” right over the top of The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News instead of sitting there, politely waiting to be introduced, by the Radio DJ Jeremy Vine. That’s what the entrepreneur Donald Trump would have done, and the differences between the entrepreneur Donald Trump and the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt are narrowing by the second.
Things took an unexpected twist at this point. For it turns out that Jeremy Hunt doesn’t just want you to know he is an entrepreneur. He wants you to know he is a rubbish one. Whether it’s true or not. When the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt referred to himself as an entrepreneur, Jeremy Vine had the temerity to ask whether the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt is “the richest man in the cabinet”, and this rather got on the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt’s wick.
“I’ve absolutely no idea,” the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt told the Radio DJ Jeremy Vine. “You brought up that fact that frankly may or may not be true. My salary was less than yours, actually, when I was running a business,” the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt added.
Fancy that. The entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt, big time entrepreneur, obviously, but not coining it anywhere near as much as a daytime DJ on the public payroll. Valuable lesson learned. If you want to talk about the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt, don’t dare try and suggest the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt made any actual money out of being an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt won’t like that one bit.
Which might seem strange, until you consider other things that the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt does like, which just a few years ago, the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt definitely didn’t.
The entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt would, he said “vote Leave” if there was a referendum tomorrow. That puts him in a very small class of entrepreneurs, like, say James Dyson, who’s so very entrepreneurial about Brexit that he’s moving his HQ to Singapore. Almost all other entrepreneurs think Brexit is a terrible idea. They wouldn’t vote Leave in a million years. But most other entrepreneurs don’t get angry if you tell them they’re rich.
The entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt is auditioning for the role of leader of this country. He is taking part in a leadership contest, no less. There is a common view that’s been doing the rounds for a few years, that this country is crying out for a bit of leadership. That there’s something of a leadership vacuum waiting to be filled.
That’s not quite true. This country has had plenty of leadership over the last few years. It’s being led by the kind of chap who calls up the the Jeremy Vine show and demands the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt answer the question: “Which country saved the world from the Nazis in 1939?” And then demands the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt answer, “The United Kingdom.” Which the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt duly did. You don’t need to know too much about leadership to know who the leader was in that particular exchange, and it wasn’t the guy taking part in the leadership contest.
A few years ago, before everyone went mad, Jeremy Hunt perhaps wouldn’t have been bullied in to doing what he’s told by an anthropomorphised YouTube comments section berating him on Radio 2, but that’s where we are. Jeremy Hunt might, in slightly different times, have had the courage not to play along with the xenophobic fantasies of an angry man with not much more to do at noon on a Wednesday than break from his Facebook addiction to call up the Jeremy Vine show. That might just be what leadership is. The thing that the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt wants you to think he has. But he doesn’t.
“Why can’t the UK just have a free trade deal with the EU, like Mexico, and like South Korea?” this chap wanted to know. This, wouldn’t you know, is “exactly what I think”, said the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt.
The entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt will tell anyone who will listen that because he’s “a negotiator, a businessman, an entrepreneur.” He and he alone, he thinks, can go to Brussels and get a great deal for Britain.
But the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt doesn’t want to negotiate over the terms of actual reality with a random member of the public on Radio 2. Does the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt know that the problem with “a free trade deal like South Korea and Mexico have” is that these countries don’t have a land border with the EU, and one that has to remain open, due to fiercely intense and unique political pressures, that are a matter of life and death?
Probably, he does, but now was not the time for the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt to be drawn into all that. There is a negotiation going on after all. The negotiation in the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt’s head, with the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt and the Jeremy Hunt that doesn’t want to be an entrepreneur anymore, and just wants to be prime minister.
You don’t need to be an entrepreneur like the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt to know who’s winning that negotiation, and it’s not the entrepreneur Jeremy Hunt.