Kwasi Kwarteng Cuts Short Washington Trip As Mini-Budget U-Turn Looms

The chancellor had been in America for a meeting of the International Monetary Fund.
Kwasi Kwarteng had not been due to leave until the weekend.
Kwasi Kwarteng had not been due to leave until the weekend.
Stefan Rousseau via PA Wire/PA Images

Kwasi Kwarteng has cut short a visit to Washington to fly back to London as the government prepares for another humiliating mini-budget U-turn.

In a surprise move, the chancellor left a meeting of the International Monetary Fund a day early in a clear sign that a fresh climbdown is on the cards.

The dash back to London came just hours after he said: “I’m not going anywhere.”

Treasury sources told the BBC that Kwarteng “really wants to engage not only with government colleagues, but also MPs” about the fall-out from last month’s disastrous mini-budget.

The chancellor and Liz Truss have already performed one U-turn by scrapping plans to abolish the 45p tax raid paid by the highest earners.

In a further shattering blow to the pair’s economic credibility, the government is now expected to go ahead with an increase to corporation tax, despite previously insisting it was remaining at 19p.

Both moves are in response to the economic turmoil caused by last month’s mini-budget, which saw Kwarteng announce £45 billion-worth of unfunded tax cuts in an attempt to stimulate economic growth.

Instead, the pound plummeted, mortgage costs soared and the Bank of England was forced to rescue the pensions industry as the money markets reacted with horror to the chancellor’s plans.

Speaking in Washington yesterday, Kwarteng refused to rule out a corporation tax U-turn and rejected suggestions that his and Truss’s jobs are on the line less than six weeks after they took them on.

Asked specifically if a U-turn was on the cards, he said: “What I’m totally focused on is on delivering on the mini-budget, making sure we get growth back into our economy.”

And asked if he and the PM will still be in their jobs this time next month, Kwarteng said: “Absolutely, 100 per cent. I’m not going anywhere.”

He later further fuelled speculation by saying “let’s see” when asked if a U-turn was coming.

Kwarteng and Truss’s futures remain highly uncertain as furious Tory MPs plot whether to dump Truss, who only replaced Boris Johnson as prime minister last month.

She faced a bruising meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers on Wednesday night, at which she faced a barrage of hostile questions.

One MP told HuffPost UK: “She was crap and the atmosphere was pretty flat in the room. Even the whips couldn’t be bothered getting people to ask supportive questions.”


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