“I’m asking if you want to say sorry, you obviously do or you don’t, which is it?”
The former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has refused to apologise for the disastrous mini-budget that resulted in chaos on the financial markets, the pound hitting an all-time low against the dollar and mortgage rates soaring.
In his first interview since being sacked by former prime minister Liz Truss who had to quit in disgrace too as a result of an entirely self-inflicted crisis, Kwarteng was asked by Talk TV presenter Tom Newton Dunn if he wanted to “say sorry”, for the mini-budget, which resulted in investor confidence collapsing and the Bank of England being forced to intervene to bail out the pensions industry.
Asked if he wanted to say sorry, Kwarteng said: “I’m not going to, I’m not going to comment on that. I think it was regrettable. And I think people were very, very concerned. Interest rates were going up. The Bank of England has put interest rates up and all of that was happening. But there was turbulence and I regret that.”
Newton Dunn replied: “I’m asking if you want to say sorry, you obviously do or you don’t, which is it?”
Kwarteng said: “You’re gonna do what you do, which is I don’t want to relive the past. I just want to focus on where we are next week. I think there was turbulence and I regret that.”
Dunn followed the response up with: “So, no apologies.”
Kwarteng refused to say sorry once more: “I’m not going to reiterate that. I think that you know, I do feel sorry actually for the people who are going through this difficult time in terms of remortgaging. I think that it is a really stressful thing to do. And I really feel sympathy for that, but I’m not going to wash my hands of what we did. I think the strategic goal was the right thing.”
Kwarteng also says that he told Truss she was going too fast with her economic plans but she didn’t heed his advice.
“She said, ‘Well, I’ve only got two years’ and I said, ‘You will have two months if you carry on like this’. And that is, I’m afraid, what happened.”
He also said: “I think the prime minister was very much of the view that we needed to move things fast. But I think it was too quick.”
Quite something for Kwarteng to try to distance himself from the disastrous budget that he equally shares responsibility for.
Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said it was “really disgraceful that Kwasi Kwarteng has the cheek to do this interview”.
“He crashed the economy with his mini budget just a few weeks ago, which has caused untold damage to people,” she added.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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