‘Empty, unremarkable, muted’: how commentators saw Kwarteng’s speech

Kwasi Kwarteng delivered his address to the Tory conference after a bruising day in which he U-turned on his plan to cut tax for high earners. He admitted his economic plan had caused “a little turbulence” and that it had been a “tough day”.

Much of the response inside the hall where the chancellor was delivering his speech appeared muted – with one of the loudest cheers reserved for repealing EU laws – and media commentators were left underwhelmed by one of the shortest conference speeches delivered by a chancellor in modern times.

Here is a roundup


The Guardian’s Rafael Behr said Kwarteng should have kept the speech to under five minutes.

James Forsyth from the Spectator said not announcing new policy was sensible.

George Eaton from the New Statesman said the speech was empty.

Tom Newton Dunn from Talk TV said he did not think the speech would impress Tories.

Hatty Collier from the i said some thought Kwarteng was guilty of understatement.

Freddie Hayward from the New Statesman found the speech contradictory.

The Guardian’s Jessica Elgot made a similar point.

Kevin Schofield from Huffpost UK points out what’s missing.

The Guardian’s John Crace called it vacuous.

Duncan Weldon, the economist and former BBC journalist, decided that the speech’s narrative was a confused one.

The broadcaster Sangita Myska said most of the speech sounded like a rehash.

Sam Coates, the deputy political editor at Sky News, picked up on how the chancellor’s words were an implicit criticism of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor.

The Guardian’s Gaby Hinsliff said Kwarteng mostly ignored the problems with the mini-budget.

Kevin Maguire of the Daily Maguire was particularly scathing.

And Christopher Hope had picked up on the initial reaction in the room as Kwarteng arrived.