Kwasi Kwarteng: All The Events Which Led Up To Chancellor's Dramatic Sacking

It may have only been 38 days, but it's been quite the ride.
Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked on October 14
Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked on October 14
Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images

Kwasi Kwarteng has just become the chancellor with the second shortest time in office in UK history.

He’s beaten only by Iain Macleod, who ran the Treasury in 1970, and who died in office after exactly a month. Nadhim Zahawi actually held the post for longer, when he was appointed by Boris Johnson in July.

So how did we (or rather, the government) get here?

September 6: Kwarteng appointed as chancellor

He had hinted throughout Liz Truss’s leadership campaign that he was her favourite candidate to be her right-hand man in the Treasury, so it was no surprise when the new PM confirmed the news.

September 23: Mini-budget

Kwarteng wasted no time in unrolling his “mini” budget once national mourning for the Queen had concluded. He described it as “The Growth Plan 2022″ – it was the biggest set of tax cuts seen in the UK for 50 years.

He also refused to let the Office for Budget Responsibility assess how it would impact the UK economy through a forecast, claiming it was too short-notice for the organisation to do a thorough job.

It included a total of £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts, from cutting the basic rate of income tax, abolishing the 45p higher rate of income tax, lifting stamp duty threshold, and scrapping the cap on bankers’ bonuses. The national insurance increase was also dropped, along with the rise in corporation tax.

On the same day, Kwarteng admitted the UK economy is now “technically” in a recession.

September 26: Pound plummets

The pound fell to an all-time low against the US dollar as markets reacted to Kwarteng’s “growth plan”. It dropped to just 1.03 in US dollars.

Meanwhile, No.10 confirmed that neither Truss nor Kwarteng were going to speak out about the plunging pound. They both disappeared from public view for a brief time.

September 27: IMF intervenes

The International Monetary Fund urged the UK to reverse its huge tax cuts, as it does “not recommend large and untargeted fiscal packages” given soaring inflation across the world.

September 28: Bank of England wades in

The Bank announced it would buy government bonds in an emergency intervention to stabilise the market.

October 2: Truss blames Kwarteng

The PM told the BBC that it was the chancellor’s decision to axe the 45p income tax rate paid by those earning more than £150,000.

October 2: Kwarteng expected to double-down on plans

It was revealed that Kwarteng was going to tell the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that the government “must stay the course” after his tax cuts.

He was expected to say: “I am confident our plan is the right one.”

October 2: Truss defends tax cuts at an evening party

At the tense Conservative conference, where members were divided over the controversial mini-budget, Truss tried to champion the move.

She said: “We’ve also announced a package of tax cuts and supply side reforms to turbocharge our economy because the fact is - now we face this global economic crisis - we need to do more to make the UK competitive and successful.”

October 3: U-turn over tax cut rate

Kwarteng U-turned over plan to cut the 45p tax rate for highest-earners at 7.25am the next day. This is just 10 days after he first announced the policy.

He claimed it was “a distraction from our overriding mission to tackle the challenges facing the country”, but was torn apart during his media rounds as broadcasters asked if it this was all “embarrassing” for him.

Speaking at the Tory conference he joked, “what a day” and admitted there had been a “little turbulence” since his budget was announced.

October 3: Kwarteng U-turns over debt plan

Kwarteng said he would bring forward the publication of his plan to bring down public debt to later in October, rather than the end of November, as originally planned.

October 4: Truss refuses to say she trusts her chancellor

Asked if she trusted her chancellor after his U-turn, Truss said: “What we’ve done is we’ve listened to the people on this issue – it wasn’t a core part of our growth plan.”

Asked a second time if she trusted Kwarteng, the PM said: “I work very closely with my chancellor, we’re very focused on getting the economy growing and that’s what people in Britain want.”

Truss then made no reply when the interviewer, Sky journalist Sam Coates, said: “Viewers will notice you still haven’t said you trust your chancellor.”

Truss also failed to rule out any more government U-turns as the Tory rebellion gained pace.

October 4: Kwarteng blames pressure of Queen’s death

The chancellor blamed the “high-pressure” surrounding the Queen’s death for the errors in his mini-budget.

“It was a very quick time that we did it. And you have got to remember the context.

“What was extraordinary about that month was that we had a new government and also we had the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, so we had a nation in mourning and then literally four days I think after the funeral, we had the mini-budget.

“It was high-speed, high-pressure environment and we could, as (former prime minister) David Cameron used to say, have prepared the pitch a bit better.”

He also told GB News that his tax cuts were not “extreme” but “bold” and helped to shift the political debate.

October 6: Bank of England confirms budget caused chaos

Despite ministers insisting the fall of the pound and climbing interest rates were linked to global factors like the Ukraine war, the Bank revealed data which actually connected the economic crisis to the chancellor’s budget on September 23.

It showed that the cost of government borrowing spiked in the immediate aftermath of the mini-budget, and only decreased after the Bank’s intervention.

By contrast, the cost of government borrowing in the US and the EU stayed flat.

October 10: Fiscal plan brought forward to Halloween

In another U-turn, Kwarteng announced that he would publish the medium term fiscal plan, explaining how he would cut down on public spending to pay for his spending cuts, on Halloween, October 31.

He had originally announced that he was planned to publish this on November 23, but confirming on October 3 that he was going to bring it forward.

October 11: Bank of England steps in again

The Bank announced that it was taking emergency action to ensure the UK’s “financial stability”. It announced it would buy up more government bonds to prevent mortgage rates from soaring to an even higher rate and stabilising the pensions industry.

October 12: Bank of England announces its emergency support will end

The Bank made it clear it would only support pension fund managers until the end of the week (three days later), after trying to prop up the UK fragile bond market.

October 13: ‘I’m not going anywhere’

The chancellor vowed that his and Truss’s jobs were safe when pressed by journalists.

Hours later, he suddenly upped and left the IMF’s conference in the US early, so he could fly back to the UK.

October 14: Kwarteng sacked

Amid speculation that the PM was considering reversing another one of Kwarteng’s policies based on corporation tax, the chancellor was fired.

He tweeted his resignation letter to Truss, which claimed: “You have asked me to stand aside as your chancellor. I. have accepted.”

He also maintained that he believes Truss’s “vision} for the country’s growth “is the right one”.

Jeremy Hunt was announced as his replacement.


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