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04th Oct 2022

Kwasi Kwarteng blames ‘pressure’ of Queen’s death for botched mini-budget

Tobi Akingbade

Kwasi is telling us all to ‘remember the context’.

Kwasi Kwarteng has blamed the “pressure” of the Queen’s death for mistakes in the mini-budget which has arguably set the Tory party into an even deeper crisis.

The chancellor said: “We had a nation in mourning and then, literally, four days after the funeral we had the mini-budget.

“It was a high speed, high pressure environment and we could, as David Cameron used to say, have prepared the pitch a bit better.”

Mr Kwarteng also sparked even more uncertainty and confusion over his next financial statement, saying: “It’s going to be 23 November,” – despite the Treasury briefing it has been brought forward to October.

After scrapping of the controversial 45p tax rate, he said that the move for top earners has merely been “postponed”, before backtracking and correcting himself to say: “We have decided not to proceed with it.”

Very confusing.

He is speaking during the same week he was forced into the humiliating U-turn over the 45p rate and is being blamed by many Conservatives for rushing ahead with massive unfunded tax cuts without a proper plan to calm the panicking financial markets.

But Mr Kwarteng, asked on GB News, what he could have “done differently”, replied: “It was a very quick time that we did it.”

“You have got to remember the context. What was extraordinary about that month was we had a new government and also we had the sad passing of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

He added: “There was a global picture, but I don’t deny that there was some market reaction to the budget because it was a bold offer.”

The chancellor is still denying the measures were “extreme”. In fact, he argued that the budget had been a success on one level, despite the economic and political damage.

“We have shifted the debate and I’m hopeful that, over the next few weeks, things will stabilise,” he told the TV channel.

“Nobody is arguing that we should put up Corporation Tax,” he claimed, although opposition parties have attacked scrapping the plan to lift the rate to 25 per cent.

Despite Mr Kwarteng saying his Medium Term Fiscal Plan will still be revealed on 23 November, it is understood the plan is to bring it forward.

The 45p income tax cut policy was one of a series that prompted turmoil in the markets over the past week, with the pound reaching record lows against the dollar.

On Sunday, the Conservative party said any Tory MP who voted against the mini-budget would be suspended from the party.

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