From ‘ideological soulmates’ to a shock sacking after just 39 days: How Liz Truss came to fire Kwasi Kwarteng – her long-time ally and neighbour from the same south London street – in bid to save her premiership
- Liz Truss sacks her ‘ideological soulmate’ Kwasi Kwarteng after just 39 days
- The PM and ex-Chancellor were long-time allies and south London neighbours
- Both became MPs in 2010 and were described as being like ‘Batman and Robin’
Liz Truss has sacked her ‘ideological soulmate’ Kwasi Kwarteng after just 39 days as she battles to save her premiership.
It comes just weeks after the duo were hailed for enjoying the closest relationship between a Prime Minister and Chancellor since David Cameron and George Osborne.
Mr Kwarteng has now become the second shortest-serving Chancellor in modern British political history, after Iain Macleod who died 30 days after taking the job in 1970.
When Ms Truss entered No10 last month and Mr Kwarteng moved into No11, there were expectations that frequent tensions between No10 and the Treasury – a feature of British politics in recent years – would end.
A sign of their close relationship was the fact they had become not just neighbours in Downing Street, but were also neighbours in the same leafy south London borough.
Mr Kwarteng moved to the same Greenwich street as Ms Truss earlier this year.
Their friendship dates back to 2010 when they first entered Parliament together following that year’s general election.
Mr Kwarteng was a member of the Free Enterprise group of Tory MPs that Ms Truss founded in 2011, which aimed to ‘free individuals to create, innovate and take risks’.
Kwasi Kwarteng has become the second shortest-serving Chancellor in history after being sacked by Liz Truss
One friend of the pair previously described the ‘slight social misfits’ and ‘amiable geeks’ as being like ‘Batman and Robin’
In 2012, Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng – along with Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Chris Skidmore – co-authored a book titled ‘Britannia Unchained’ that has since been viewed as a blueprint for the PM’s vision for her premiership.
The book bemoaned the ‘legacy of a bloated state, high taxes and excessive regulation threatens to take the drive out of the British economy’.
There was a slight fracture in the pair’s joint political viewpoint during the EU referendum in 2016, when Mr Kwarteng backed Brexit but Ms Truss campaigned fiercely for Remain.
But they were soon aligned again as Cabinet ministers in Boris Johnson’s Government.
Both were opposed to former Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s hike in National Insurance, as well as the decision to slap a windfall tax on energy firms’ profits.
Mr Kwarteng was said to have been among a small group of Tory MPs sat around Ms Truss’s kitchen table when they plotted her leadership campaign after Mr Johnson’s resignation in July.
When Ms Truss assumed the position as frontrunner in this summer’s Conservative contest, one friend of the pair described the ‘slight social misfits’ and ‘amiable geeks’ as being like ‘Batman and Robin’.
Mr Kwarteng was said to have been among a small group of Tory MPs sat around Ms Truss’s kitchen table when they plotted her leadership campaign this summer
Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng announced a U-turn on scrapping the 45p top rate of tax during this month’s Conservative Party conference in Birmingham
Ms Truss was said to have been intimately involved as Mr Kwarteng and his Treasury officials put together the mini-Budget he unveiled on 23 September
Mr Kwarteng noted his and Ms Truss’s long friendship in a letter to the PM in which he confirmed she had asked him to ‘stand aside’ as Chancellor
Mr Kwarteng was soon widely-tipped to become Ms Truss’s Chancellor if she entered No10 – a prediction that was proved right when she beat Mr Sunak to become PM on September 5.
Ms Truss was said to have been intimately involved as Mr Kwarteng and his Treasury officials put together the mini-Budget they unveiled on September 23.
The package delivered a number of Ms Truss’s leadership campaign pledges – including a cut to National Insurance and the scrapping of a planned hike in corporation tax.
But Mr Kwarteng and Ms Truss – often referred to as ‘ideological soulmates’ – also went further than she had outlined during the Tory leadership contest.
They announced of a scrapping of the top rate of income tax, the bringing forward of 1p cut in the basic rate of income tax, the removal of the bankers’ bonus cap and the slashing of stamp duty.
Widespread surprise at the size of the tax-cutting agenda the pair had embarked upon – and fears over an increase in borrowing to fund the measures – spooked financial markets and Tory MPs.
As pressure grew, Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng announced a U-turn on scrapping the 45p top rate of tax during this month’s Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
But their action was not enough to settle the financial turmoil – or mutinous Tory MPs – which has now forced the PM to sack her Chancellor as she battles to remain in No10.
In a letter to Ms Truss, Mr Kwarteng confirmed he had been asked to ‘stand aside’ by the PM.
He wrote: ‘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.’
But the departing Mr Kwarteng defiantly stood by his low-tax ethos, adding: ‘For too long this country has been dogged by low growth rates and high taxation – that must change if this country is to succeed.’
In her reply to Mr Kwarteng, the PM also referred to the man she had just sacked as a ‘long-standing friend and colleague’.
‘I am deeply sorry to lose you from the Government,’ Ms Truss wrote.
‘We share the same vision for our country and the same firm conviction to go for growth.’
She added: ‘Thank you for your service to this country and your huge friendship and support.
‘I have no doubt you will continue to make a major contribution to public life in the years ahead.’
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