Ex-Chancellor interview

Kwarteng warned Truss she was ‘going too fast’

Truss and Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng said Liz Truss was ‘distressed and emotional’ when she sacked him

Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng told Liz Truss that going too fast with her reforms would bring her down.

Speaking for the first time since being sacked following the mini-budget catastrophe, he said he advised Ms Truss that a “methodical and strategic approach” was the right course.

“She said, ‘Well, I’ve only got two years’ and I said, ‘You will have two months if you carry on like this’, and that is, I’m afraid, what happened.”

In September, he announced a list unfunded tax cutting policies that initially drew support from his backbenchers but quickly sent the markets into a tailspin.

Speaking to TalkTV, Mr Kwarteng accepted he was “responsible” for the fiscal plan and that he was “not gonna wash my hands [of] it”.

However, he refused to apologise for what happened, saying instead: “Looking back, I think we could have had a much more measured approach.”

He said that he had had reservations about the scale of the planned tax cuts in his mini-budget on 23 September.

“The prime minister was very much of the view that we needed to seize the opportunity and we hit the ground running,” he said.

“She’s very dynamic, very forceful. That’s a great strength. But I think you had to have a measured approach, especially doing the things that were radical, that were bold. And that’s the lesson that we’ve learnt.”

Asked who controlled the timetable of the mini-budget, Mr Kwarteng said that he bore “some responsibility for it”.

But he added: “I think the prime minister was very much of the view that we needed to move things fast. But I think it was too quick. If you look at it, it was on the 23rd September. We only got into the office on the 6th September. And looking back I think a measured pace would have been much better.”

Mr Kwarteng, who had been Business Secretary in Boris Johnson’ s government, confirmed rumours that he found out through Twitter about his dismissal as Chancellor on Twitter. When he arrived at Number 10 to be told of his fate, Ms Truss was “distressed and emotional”.

He said he told her that she was “mad” to fire him, adding: “People will ask, ‘If you sacked the person who was doing what you wanted, why are you still there?’ ”

Kwarteng said Rishi Sunak was a “very credible prime minister” but said that he could not “simply keep putting up taxes”. He added that Mr Sunak and the new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, should not blame him and Ms Truss for all the government’s present problems.

“The only thing that they could possibly blame us for is the interest rates and interest rates have come down and the gilt rates have come down. I mean, it wasn’t that the national debt was created by Liz Truss’s 44 days in government.”

Although he accepted that taxes would need to rise in the short term, the government still needed a growth strategy.

He said: “You’re not going to grow an economy or incentivise economic growth by putting up our taxes.”

The former chancellor has long been one of Truss’s closest political allies and friends and despite the disastrous end of their brief partnership in Downing Street he said he and Ms Truss were “still friends”.

However, he admitted he had still not returned a missed call from her two days ago. “I will call her back,” he said.

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