Liz Truss Squirms When Asked About Kwasi Kwarteng Sacking
Liz Truss was left lost for words after admitting in an interview that she sacked her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng despite agreeing with him on plans to slash taxes.
The former prime minister sat down with The Spectator magazine as part of an unlikely comeback tour that began with a Sunday newspaper article largely justifying her time in charge.
Truss’s brief premiership lasted just 49 days as she was forced to quit after Kwarteng’s £45 billion package of unfunded tax cuts panicked the markets and tanked the pound.
The mini-budget included: plans to scrap the 45p income tax rate paid by the highest earners, a cut to stamp duty, reversing the rise in national insurance and cancelling a planned rise in corporation tax.
In The Spectator interview, released on Monday, Truss appeared stumped when asked by editor Fraser Nelson about an aspect of Kwarteng’s removal – specifically whether they disagreed on policy.
Fraser Nelson: Perhaps the biggest change you made was losing Kwasi Kwarteng, one of your longest-standing political allies. That must have been a very difficult decision.
Liz Truss: It was very difficult, it was very difficult – and reversing the measures in the mini-budget as well that we thought were right was very difficult.
FN: But the two of you didn’t disagree on anything as far as I can work out?
FN: Yet he still had to go.
LT: (After very long pause) I can’t say it was anything but extremely difficult. He was in Washington at the time at the IMF meeting and I was getting some very serious warnings from senior officials that there could be a potential market meltdown the following week if I didn’t take action. I needed to do as much as I could to indicate that things were different – and that’s why I took the decision I did. I weighed it up in my mind about whether I needed to do that. But the reality was that I couldn’t, in all conscience, risk that situation.
Fraser Nelson: (Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng) didn’t disagree on anything as far as I can work out?
Nelson: Yet he still had to go.
Truss: fjkfhwgpgwqj pic.twitter.com/YGyJwc2TfS
— Graeme Demianyk (@GraemeDemianyk) February 6, 2023
Kwarteng has claimed he told Truss to “slow down” with her radical economic agenda as the ex-prime minister was moving at “breakneck speed” after the disastrous mini-budget.
In November, in his first interview since his ousting, the ex-chancellor said he warned her of being out of No 10 within “two months”.
The “slow down” claim came despite him telling the BBC there was “more to come”.
Elsewhere in The Spectator interview, Truss said she didn’t think it was “fair” to blame her for the sharp rise in interest rates that followed the tax proposals, and that she “didn’t understand” the risks to the bond markets and would have delayed her mini-budget if she had.
In a 4,000-word article for the Sunday Telegraph, Truss pointed the finger at Treasury officials, Joe Biden, the International Monetary Fund, Tory MPs and the Office for Budget Responsibility for making her job impossible.
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