Kwasi Kwarteng: Liz Truss’s chancellor standing down at general election

Former Conservative chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has announced that he is quitting parliament at the general election later this year.

The senior figure in the short-lived Liz Truss government – the minister responsible for the disastrous mini-Budget – will stand down in his “blue wall” Surrey seat of Spelthorne.

Mr Kwarteng has been largely unapologetic for the spree of unfunded tax cuts which saw him fired as chancellor only five weeks into the job.

He has also lashed out as his former boss and ally – saying Ms Truss was “not wired” to be PM and would have “blown up” something if they had escaped the autumn statement debacle.

“It has been an honour to serve the residents of Spelthorne since 2010, and I shall continue to do so for the remainder of my time in parliament,” Mr Kwarteng posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The mini-Budget debacle masterminded by Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng saw a collapse in the pound and a spike in interest rates as markets betted against Britain.

The staggering episode cost the country £30bn, according to the Resolution Foundation, and saw poor Tory poll ratings plummet further.

Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss were in power at Downing Street for only around six weeks (Reuters)
Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss were in power at Downing Street for only around six weeks (Reuters)

Mr Kwarteng revealed last year that he thought his sacking by Ms Truss, only six days before her own exit at the hands of Tory MPs, was “completely insane”.

“They’re going to come after you now,” he told her, according to Ben Riley-Smith’s book The Right to Rule. “They’re going to ask you: If you’ve sacked him for doing what you campaigned on, why are you still there?”

Told Jeremy Hunt was going to replace him, Mr Kwarteng fumed: “Hunt?! He’s going to reverse everything!” Before leaving he told the PM: “You’ve got three weeks.”

It comes as Ms Truss launches yet another Tory faction – Popular Conservativism, dubbed the PopCons in Westminster – at a rally in London on Tuesday.

The ex-PM is set to be joined by ex-Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson, former Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Nigel Farage.

The PopCons’ leader Mark Littlewood – the right-wing economist handed a peerage in the Truss resignation honours – claimed that the Tories can draw “important lessons” from her very short tenure in No 10.

He told Times Radio: “I think the lessons we can draw from her very short time in office are important lessons for Conservatives who want to change Britain, want to see taxes come down.”

Liz Truss will launch the new Popular Conservatism movement (PA Wire)
Liz Truss will launch the new Popular Conservatism movement (PA Wire)

Mr Rees-Mogg will use his speech at the event to rail against an “activist judiciary” and an “out-of-touch oligarchy”, as right wingers push to quit the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

“Popular Conservatism is about restoring this balance and returning power to parliament while taking it away from quangos and a judiciary that has become more political,” the Truss ally will say.

Sir Jacob has denied the new group is seeking to oust Rishi Sunak – but the right-winger has said he would like to see Mr Farage join the Conservative party.

Mr Rees-Mogg said he was “absolutely delighted” that Mr Farage was coming to cover the event for GB News – claiming the Reform UK party president was “essentially a Conservative”.

Polling published on Monday suggested Ms Truss is the very least popular politician with the British public, despite her claim to be in touch with “popular” ideas.

Her net favourability score is minus 54 per cent, compared with Mr Sunak’s minus 27 per cent, a survey by Savanta found.

Cabinet minister Mel Stride, a loyal Sunak ally, claimed the launch of the PopCons was a sign of the range of opinions within the Tory party.

The work and pensions secretary told GB News: “The Conservative party is a very broad church ... and I think it’s important that the different parts of the party do come together and ventilate different views.”