Kwarteng stung: Mini budget chancellor offered to set up meeting between fake firm and Boris Johnson for ‘£10k’
Former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng offered to facilitate setting up a meeting between a fake foreign firm and former prime minister Boris Johnson during a sting interview.
Mr Kwarteng was caught up in a hoax organised by campaign group Led By Donkeys in which he was approached about providing political advice to a bogus company it alleged existed in South Korea.
During the phoney interview with someone claiming to work for the company, the Conservative MP looked to “sell” himself by highlighting his experience serving “briefly” as chancellor and also as a business secretary and energy minister.
In a clip posted on social media on Sunday, Mr Kwarteng described Mr Johnson as the “best campaigner you will ever see” during the conversation with the hoax company.
Told by the fake employee they hoped to meet the former Conservative Party leader during a future visit to the UK, the Spelthorne MP said: “I’m sure you will.
“I mean, let’s talk. I’m sure we can try and arrange that.”
He added: “I’m not promising anything but he is someone I know. He’s a great guy.”
Mr Kwarteng indicated he would take on external consultancy work for the firm for a rate of £10,000 per day.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock, in a separate interview, said his daily rate was the same five-figure sum.
There is no accusation of wrongdoing, with MPs permitted to seek employment outside of Parliament as long as they abide by transparency and lobbying rules.
Mr Kwarteng is heard telling the phoney outfit: “I would say (out of) my generation in the UK, there are very few people who have had the breadth of experience I’ve had across business and politics at this level.”
Speaking from his office in Parliament, he suggests that as a “senior politician” in a Government with a healthy majority that he should be able to travel internationally for any consultancy work.
Told board meetings could take place in Europe and South Korea, he said: “I can do that. I’m very flexible.”
He said he could make himself available for one-off Zoom meetings “at a minute’s notice”.
The former business secretary told the interviewer they seemed “extremely professional” and would “be very interested to see what you have to offer”.
While serving as chancellor to former prime minister Liz Truss, Mr Kwarteng sent the value of the pound tumbling and mortgage rates soaring with his September mini-budget’s unfunded tax cuts, which included plans to abolish the tax rate for Britain’s highest earners.
Following the fallout, he was sacked by Ms Truss, lasting only 38 days in the job.
The sting by anti-Brexit group Led By Donkeys saw it create a company called Hanseong Consulting, including setting up a website which contained made-up testimonials and paying for a so-called “fake virtual office” in the South Korean capital Seoul.
It then approached 20 MPs from across the political divide about serving on its non-existent international advisory board.
Five of those were said to have progressed to an online interview stage, including Mr Hancock and four Tories: Mr Kwarteng, former defence secretary Sir Gavin Williamson, former minister Stephen Hammond and Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, an influential backbench body.
Mr Kwarteng has been approached for comment.