Liz Truss defends Chancellor for attending drinks do with financiers after mini-Budget

Liz Truss has defended Kwasi Kwarteng following reports that he attended a private champagne reception with hedge fund managers who stood to gain from a collapse in sterling just hours after his mini-budget.

Mr Kwarteng reportedly joined the gathering at a financier’s home in Chelsea on the evening of September 23, according to The Sunday Times.

He is said to have been “egged on” by guests to commit to his plan for £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts.

But the Prime Minister has defended her colleague, saying he “meets business people all the time”.

Ms Truss told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “The Chancellor meets business people all the time, that’s his job.

“I do not manage Kwasi Kwarteng’s diary, believe me.”

Pressed on whether it would have been better if he had not attended, Ms Truss said: “I get up every morning as Prime Minister thinking how can we make our country more successful, how can we reassure people, how can we help people get through these very difficult times and we do face difficult times.

“And that’s what I’m focused on. That’s what the Chancellor is focused on and that is what the whole Cabinet is focused on.”

The Liberal Democrats are among those calling for an official inquiry following the report.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Sarah Olney said: “While struggling homeowners saw their mortgage bills spiral, it seems the Chancellor was sipping champagne with hedge fund managers profiting from the falling pound.

“How out of touch can you get? We need an official inquiry into this now.”

A source close to the Chancellor dismissed any suggestion of impropriety regarding his attendance at the reception.

“Any suggestion attendees had access to privileged information is total nonsense,” the source said.

“The growth plan published on Friday included a commitment to review our tax code to make it simpler, better for families and more pro-growth.

“The Government’s ambitions on lowering the tax burden are hardly a state secret.”

Meanwhile, the Conservative party chairman said donors who attended the champagne reception with the Chancellor after his mini-budget should be “lauded”.

Jake Berry told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “We often have drinks receptions for donors in the Conservative Party and in fact these people should be lauded because we don’t have public funding of political parties and these are people who go out and make money and donate to political parties in the same way as they do for the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.”

He said the event had not been for hedge fund managers, although there was at least one in attendance, but instead had been for “Britain’s leading entrepreneurs” as part of the “normal drumbeat” ofpartyfundraising events.

Mr Berry added that he thought the Chancellor himself had been drinking a soft drink rather than champagne.