'What A Day': Kwasi Kwarteng Jokes About 45p U-Turn In Underwhelming Conference Speech

The chancellor admitted his disastrous mini-budget had caused "a little turbulence".
Kwasi Kwarteng delivers his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
Kwasi Kwarteng delivers his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
Aaron Chown via PA Wire/PA Images

Kwasi Kwarteng joked about his humiliating 45p tax rate U-turn as he told the Tory conference: “What a day.”

The chancellor tried to lighten the gloomy mood among the Conservative rank-and-file just hours after being forced into the embarrassing climbdown by rebel MPs.

Kwarteng admitted there had been “a little turbulence” since his mini-budget, a reference to the economic chaos caused by his unfunded tax cuts.

But he failed to mention the soaring mortgage costs which have hammered home owners, or the high rate of inflation causing the cost of living crisis.

The chancellor endured a miserable broadcast media round this morning after he was forced to abandon his plans to cut the taxes of the 660,000 people in the UK who earn more than £150,000 a year.

Kicking off his 20-minute speech, Kwarteng said: “What a day. It has been tough, but we need to focus on the job in hand.

“We need to move forward. No more distractions. We have a plan, and we need to get on and deliver it.”

Referring to his mini-budget, he added: “I know the plan put forward only ten days ago has caused a little turbulence.

“I get it. We are listening and have listened and now want to focus on delivering the major parts of our growth package.”

Incredibly, Kwarteng also devoted a section of his speech to attacking Labour’s economic record the last time they were in power.

“When this party came into government – we were met with the full force of Labour’s economic incompetence,” the chancellor said. ”‘No money left’, taxes raised, record unemployment.

“We reversed that story of national decline.”

Despite announcing £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts, Kwarteng insisted the Tories were the party of “fiscal discipline”.

But with Tory MPs threatening to rebel once again over plans to cut benefits in real terms and slash public spending, Kwarteng stopped short of making any new announcements on how he plans to balance the books.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “This speech showed us a chancellor and a Tory government completely out of touch, with no understanding on its own appalling record on growth.

“What the chancellor called a little financial disturbance is a huge economic body-blow to working people that will mean higher prices and soaring mortgages. That’s the Tory economic premium.

“This is an economic crisis made in Downing Street, paid for by working people.”


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