Kwasi Kwarteng has been dismissed as chancellor of the UK after just 38 days in office. His dramatic exit makes him the second shortest-serving chancellor in British history.
He was relieved of his post following a crunch meeting with Prime Minister Liz Truss after he cut short his trip to the U.S.
In a letter, Kwarteng said that Truss’s vision for Britain “is the right one” and that “following the status quo was simply not an option”.
“As I said many times in the past weeks, following the status quo was simply not an option… for too long this country has been dogged by low growth rates and high taxation – that must change if this country is to succeed,” he said.
In a letter, Truss thanked him for his service and said she was “deeply sorry” to lose him from the government. “We share the same vision for our country and the same firm conviction to go for growth,” Ms Truss added.
According to her, Kwarteng became Chancellor in extraordinarily challenging times in the face of severe global headwinds.
Meanwhile, Truss has appointed former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt as the new chancellor of the exchequer. According to her, Hunt is “one of the most experienced and widely respected government ministers and parliamentarians.”
“He shares my convictions and ambitions for our country. He will deliver the medium-term fiscal plan at the end of this month. He will see through the support we are providing to help families and businesses, including our energy price guarantee.”
Here’s Kwarteng’s letter to the PM in full:
Dear Prime Minister,
You have asked me to stand aside as your Chancellor. I have accepted.
When you asked me to serve as your Chancellor, I did so in full knowledge that the situation we faced was incredibly difficult, with rising global interest rates and energy prices. However, your vision of optimism, growth and change was right.
As I have said many times in the past weeks, following the status quo was simply not an option. For too long this country has been dogged by low growth rates and high taxation – that must still change if this country is to succeed.
The economic environment has changed rapidly since we set out the Growth Plan on 23 September. In response, together with the Bank of England and excellent officials at the Treasury we have responded to those events, and I commend my officials for their dedication.
It is important now as we move forward to emphasise your Government’s commitment to fiscal discipline. The Medium-Term Fiscal Plan is crucial to this end, and I look forward to supporting you and my successor to achieve that from the backbenches.
We have been colleagues and friends for many years. In that time, I have seen your dedication and determination. I believe your vision is the right one. It has been an honour to serve as your first Chancellor.
Your success is this country’s success and I wish you well.
Member of Parliament for Spelthorne.
Kwarteng became the first black to become chancellor of the exchequer. Prior to his appointment, he served as the first Black business secretary.
Before becoming business secretary, Kwarteng held a more junior role in the business department and was also a junior minister at the former Department for Exiting the European Union, according to the politico.
According to gov.uk, the Chancellor of the Exchequer “is the government’s chief financial minister and as such is responsible for raising revenue through taxation or borrowing and for controlling public spending.” It adds that the Chancellor’s responsibilities cover:
fiscal policy (including the presenting of the annual Budget);
monetary policy, setting inflation targets;
ministerial arrangements (in his role as Second Lord of the Treasury);
overall responsibility for the Treasury’s response to COVID-19.
Kwarteng is of Ghanaian origin. His parents, father Alfred and mother Charlotte came to the UK as students in the 1960s. His father went on to become an economist while his mom became a barrister. The only child of his parents, Kwarteng was born in Waltham Forest, east London in 1975.
He began his education at a state primary and by age eight, he was sent to the independent prep school Colet Court. At age 13, he won a scholarship to study at Eton College and later read history at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he earned Bachelor and PhD degrees in British History.
Kwarteng’s first career started as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and as a financial analyst at banks including JP Morgan. He authored the book “Ghosts of Empire,” about the legacy of the British Empire and also co-authored “Gridlock Nation” with Jonathan Dupont in 2011, on the causes and solutions to traffic congestion in Britain.
In 2012, he co-authored the book Britannia Unchained with some Tory MPs, including Liz Truss. They claimed: “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world.”
According to the BBC, Kwarteng has since distanced himself from this view. The BBC reported him as saying “that the context of the pandemic, huge government spending on measures such as the furlough scheme, climate change challenges and Brexit mean that it is very difficult even to apply comments from five or six years ago today.”
He first got involved in Conservative politics as the chairman of the Bow Group think tank, according to the BBC. By 2005, his sights were set on parliament and he was unsuccessful in his first attempt to represent the people of Brent East. He came in third after winning Liberal Democrat and second place Labour.
His parliamentary journey began in 2010 when he got his next chance and ran for the seat of Spelthorne in Surrey, a seat he won comfortably. He was re-elected as Conservative MP for Spelthorne on May 7, 2015.
Kwarteng has served on some Select Committees since being elected and has served as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Leader of the House of Lords and the Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union.
Kwarteng has been a strong advocate of local enterprise and reforms in the business environment to make the UK business-friendly. He launched an initiative in 2013 dubbed the “Spelthorne Business Plan Competition” to find the local entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The competition has run successfully every year since it was launched.