British Prime Minister Liz Truss has sacked her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, in an effort to stem the economic turmoil unleashed by his mini-budget at the end of last month, reports emerging from Downing Street in London said on Friday.
A formal announcement is expected when Truss addresses a scheduled press conference later on Friday, when a replacement is likely to be confirmed for Kwarteng – in office at the UK Treasury for only 38 days. He took to Twitter soon after to confirm that he had been asked to “step aside” as Chancellor.
"As I have said many times in the past weeks, following the status quo was simply not an option. For too long this country has been dogged by low growth rates and high taxation - that must still change if this country is to succeed," his resignation letter reads.
Earlier, the finance minister cut short his visit to the US for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington to fly back for a meeting with his boss. It had triggered speculation over his job and possible U-turns on the tax cuts he had tabled in Parliament, which had resulted in the pound plummeting against the dollar and the Bank of England stepping in to buy the country’s long-term bonds to shore up the pension funds.
The estimated GBP 45-billion worth of tax cuts without a detailed funding plan to back it up were seen as disastrous for the UK economy at a time when inflation has already been soaring.
Truss and Kwarteng, who have been close friends for years, had insisted that the turbulence in the UK economy was part of a global problem exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict induced energy crisis and post-pandemic recovery.
"We have been colleagues and friends for many years. In that time, I have seen your dedication and determination. I believe your vision is the right one," Kwarteng noted in this departure letter.
An open revolt by Tory MPs and a record surge for the Opposition Labour Party in the opinion polls meant his position in Cabinet had become increasingly untenable after Truss announced the first major reversal of mini-budget policies when she backtracked on scrapping the 45-pence top rate of income tax for the wealthiest.
Another U-turn on the cards is expected to be that the government would raise corporation tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in April 2023, as tabled by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and withdrawn by Kwarteng in his mini-budget.