Kwasi Kwarteng: ‘Difficult call’ to attend post-budget drinks party
The Chancellor said that “with hindsight it probably wasn’t the best day to go” to the Tory party event.
Political opponents called for an official inquiry following the Sunday Times report that he attended a private champagne reception with hedge fund managers who stood to gain from a collapse in sterling following his mini-budget.
Mr Kwarteng said the event had been planned for “a few weeks”.
He told LBC Radio: “I spent, I think, quarter of an hour there, or maybe a bit longer. It was a party event, we have party events all the time.”
Mr Kwarteng added: “I think it was a difficult call and I totally get how it looks. I just feel that it was something that I was signed up to do and I had to do.”
He acknowledged that “with hindsight it probably wasn’t the best day to go”.
The Sunday Times reported that he joined the gathering at the Chelsea home of a City financier on the evening of September 23 where he was said to have been “egged on” to commit to his plan for £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts.
The following Sunday, in a BBC TV interview, the Chancellor declared there was “more to come”, a comment that was blamed for helping to spook the markets, driving the pound, which was already falling, to an all-time low against the dollar.
Tory chairman Jake Berry, who was also at the gathering, insisted Conservative Party donors at the event should be “lauded” while Prime Minister Liz Truss said meeting business people was part of the Chancellor’s job.
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng have abandoned a plan to abolish the top rate of income tax for the highest earners in an astonishing U-turn.
The pound has bounced back to levels seen before the Government’s controversial mini-budget as the Chancellor performed a U-turn on the decision to axe the 45p tax rate.
Sterling surged to 1.13 US dollars at one stage overnight, recovering ground lost in the market turmoil sparked by Kwasi Kwarteng’s infamous mini-budget, though it pared back some of the gains in early morning trading to stand at 1.12.