Kwasi Kwarteng has been appointed Chancellor as new Prime Minister Liz Truss forms her new Government. The MP for Spelthorne has been a key ally of Ms Truss’ for years, and was a strong backer of her during the Tory leadership campaign. The new Chancellor’s affinity for economic policy is no surprise given that his father was an economist. His mother was also a lawyer, and she deeply admired former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Like most politicians, Mr Kwarteng went on to attend Eton College before studying classics and history at the University of Cambridge. During his time at Cambridge, Mr Kwarteng had his first moment in the limelight when he appeared on University Challenge.
Just 19 at the time, he was quizzed by presenter Jeremy Paxman during the show in 1995, and when he didn’t know the answer, Mr Kwarteng didn’t hide his dismay. After buzzing to answer, he said: “Oh f***, I’ve forgotten”.
This wouldn’t be the end of his expletive-filled cameo. After a few more seconds of thinking, Mr Kwarteng once again said “Oh f***”. Mr Kwarteng’s panicked swearing even made headlines in the press, with The Sun publishing a report headlined “Rudiversity Challenge”.
Not to be discouraged, Mr Kwarteng and his teammates from Trinity College Cambridge went on to be crowned champions of University Challenge in 1995. He also managed to earn a PhD in economic history from Cambridge, but not before he attended Harvard University in the United States on a Kennedy Scholarship.
His confidence at university is summarised by an anecdote from his admissions interview for Trinity College. After the tutor arrived late and admitted he hadn’t done many admissions interviews himself, a 17-year-old Mr Kwarteng replied: “Don’t worry, sir – I’m sure you’ll do very well.”
Entering the world of work, Mr Kwarteng wrote columns for the Telegraph and worked as a financial analyst in the City of London. He pivoted to politics when he ran to become Conservative MP for Brent East in the 2005 general election. After a failed bid for a seat in the London Assembly in 2008, he eventually became an MP in 2010 as the Conservatives formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Kwarteng’s political views are closely aligned with the new Prime Minister. Both believe in low taxes, low state intervention and free market economics.
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He comes in as Chancellor at a time when the UK faces similar economic crises. The cost of living crisis is causing havoc for people across the country with many struggling to keep up with rising bills.
On Wednesday, Mr Kwarteng met with City bosses to produce a plan for economic growth. The priority, he said, would be helping struggling families through the cost of living crisis.
He added: “We face extraordinary economic challenges in the coming weeks and months and I know that families and businesses across the UK are worried.
“The Prime Minister and I are committed to taking decisive action to help the British people now, while pursuing an unashamedly pro-growth agenda.
“We need to be decisive and do things differently. That means relentlessly focusing on how we unlock business investment and grow the size of the British economy, rather than how we redistribute what’s left.
“With a strong and resilient economy, we deliver more jobs, higher wages and raised living standards – all while reducing our debt-to-GDP ratio in a fiscally sustainable way.”