‘Throwing Kwasi under the bus’ will not solve Truss’ situation

Liz Truss 'is an extremely difficult situation' says expert

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Matthew Lesh, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has said the “truly brutal” sacking of Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor of the Exchequer will not “solve the underlying issues” facing Prime Minister Liz Truss and the Conservative Government. Mr Lesh said the PM must now “calm the markets” as the pound fell by about one and a half percent against the dollar in response to the news that the Chancellor had been made to resign. Reports have emerged that Chris Philp, the chief secretary to the Treasury, the second most important job in the department typically tasked with the management of public spending, also lost his job. Jeremy Hunt, the relatively more centrist Conservative and former foreign secretary, has been appointed as the new Chancellor. 

Mr Lesh said: “I think the Prime Minister is in an extremely difficult situation and I think that the sacking of Kwasi is truly brutal and shocking. 

“The truth is, I do not think that throwing Kwasi under the bus is going to solve the underlying issues that, in fact, predate Truss, which is that the status quo is failing.

“We have high levels of inflation, rising interest rates and very stagnant growth. The question, now, for the Government is how they are going to respond to that, both in terms of trying to calm the markets when it comes to fiscal sustainability as well as ensuring that the backbenchers support whatever the next focus is in terms of the Government’s agenda. 

“And then from that, they also have to try to put forward some meaningful, structural reforms to try to boost the medium to long-term prospects of the British economy. It is not an easy task on her hands.” 

Kwasi Kwarteng has paid the price for the chaos unleashed by his mini-budget as he flew back to London from an International Monetary Fund conference in Washington DC, USA, to be dramatically sacked by Liz Truss.

The Chancellor cut short his attendance at the IMF’s annual meeting to be told of his fate in a brief meeting with the Prime Minister.

In a letter to Ms Truss posted on social media, Mr Kwarteng said: “You have asked me to stand aside as your Chancellor. I have accepted.”

He said her “vision of optimism, growth and change was right” and pledged to support her from the backbenches.

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has been appointed as the successor to Kwasi Kwarteng. 

It is likely to signal a major shift in policy direction. A more centrist figure, Mr Hunt is unlikely to share Mr Kwarteng and Ms Truss’s ideological free market commitment to tax cuts.

Mr Kwarteng’s dismissal follows weeks of turmoil after his £43 billion package of unfunded tax cuts spooked the financial markets.

His departure may give Ms Truss some brief breathing space as she seeks to shore up her battered authority – but it will also raise fresh questions about her chances of survival.


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The Prime Minister is closely linked to Mr Kwarteng’s tax-cutting agenda having strongly defended his plan to get the economy going again.

The commitments to reverse a hike in national insurance rates and ditch a planned rise in corporation tax, without explaining how they would be paid for, were the key planks of her leadership election campaign.

But after the financial markets took fright – with the pound plummeting against the dollar and the cost of government borrowing soaring – the Conservatives have seen their opinion poll ratings tank.

For Labour, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the whole Government had to go. “Changing the chancellor doesn’t undo the damage that’s already been done,” she said.

“It was a crisis made in Downing Street. Liz Truss and the Conservatives crashed the economy, causing mortgages to skyrocket, and undermined Britain’s standing on the world stage. We don’t just need a change in chancellor, we need a change in Government.”


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