Kwasi Kwarteng has broken his silence on Liz Truss’ 42-day tenure as prime minister, saying he warned her to “slow down” and predicted her downfall just a few days later.
In his first interview since being sacked on 14 October, after just 38 days in charge of the pursestrings, he said the PM’s problem was she “tried to do too much too fast”.
There had been “no real tactical plan” to support the now disastrous mini-budget, but also took responsibility for the measures in it, which ultimately led to both of their downfalls.
Asked why they wanted to implement policies “in such a hurry”, he saiid Truss wanted to “hit the ground running” and she is “very dynamic very forceful” in her views.
“I fully admit the mini-budget did surprise the markets” he said.
“I’m responsible. I’m not gonna wash my hands with it. I was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was also part of the top team. But looking back I think we could have had a much more measured approach.”
While refusing to apologise for the measures, which led to turmoil in the markets and the crashing of the pound, he regretted the “turbulence” and for those suffering the consequences.
““I do feel sorry actually for the people who are going through this difficult time in terms of remortgaging. I think that it is a really stressful thing to do.”
Speaking to TalkTV’s Tom Newton Dunn, he said he learnt of his sacking via Twitter, and confronted a “distressed and emotional” prime minister about the “mad” decision to sack him.
“Everyone knows that that was your policy” he told her. “She can’t fire me for just implementing what she campaigned on. We had a conversation. And I think it was very much the view that somehow she would survive if I took the fall on that.”
“I think I said to her at the time, ‘This is going to last three or four weeks’. Little did I know it was only going to be six days.”
Speaking about the sacking, Kwarteng said his long-time political ally Truss “was very emotional.”
“I can’t remember whether she was actually shedding tears, but she was very emotional and it was a difficult thing to do. And I think she genuinely thought that that was the right thing to buy her more time to set her Premiership on the right path.
|I disagreed, obviously, I thought that if Chancellors are sacked by the Prime Minister for doing what the Prime Minister campaigned on, that leaves the Prime Minister in a very weak position.”
The decision to sack Kwarteng ultimately led to Truss’ downfall with a Conservative leadership contest following just a matter of days after her resignation on 20 October.
Kwarteng also hit out at the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, saying his the expected tax rises in the Autumn statement on 17 October were the wrong course of action.
“I’ve always had the view that we can’t simply keep putting up taxes. We’ve got to think about growth.”
He said he’s worried about where growth will come from, but pushed back on being an anti-Sunak figurehead against tax rises.
“I think Rishi Sunak is actually a very credible Prime Minister. Above all, I think he has the temperament of a Prime Minister and he’s very cool and he’s very considered.”