James Forsyth

Hunt’s rising star

Hunt's rising star
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The decision on News Corp's take-over of BSkyB has thrust Jeremy Hunt into the spotlight. The culture secretary is many Tories' bet to be the next leader of the party. Hunt is ambitious even by political standards: during the Brown bounce he canvassed opinion as to whether he should stand in the Tory leadership contest that would follow an election defeat, and has a John Major like ability to make factions in the party feel like he is one of them. Add to this, a good television manner and one can see why people think he'll go far.

One of the odd things about politics is that there is no heir apparent to Cameron in the Tory party. Hague used to be considered the obvious emergency replacement. But that is no longer true. The bookies have Boris as a good bet to replace Cameron and he'd definitely attract considerable support. Yet, he'd have to get back into parliament before he could stand and make it through the MPs' round first. Then there's George Osborne who is canny enough to recognise that any speculation about him becoming the next leader would not be helpful to his cause. This leaves Hunt as the most talked about option by MPs. But the risk of all this to him is that it rather puts a target on his back.