Kwasi Kwarteng, British finance minister in the storm

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Massive strikes to urgently demand wage increases in the face of historic inflation. A badly put together budget project favorable to the highest incomes which is causing the markets and the pound to collapse. In the United Kingdom, the beginnings are difficult for the conservative Prime Minister Liz Truss and her number two the Minister of Finance Kwasi Kwarteng. Both are today caught up in the turmoil of their party and public opinion.

An athlete’s physique, a certain charisma, Akwasi Addo Alfred Kwarteng of his real name is the son of Ghanaian intellectuals who immigrated to England in the 1960s. Like several ministers, he comes from ethnic minorities. But he never highlights this heritage.

Rather, he lets his CV speak for him. Degrees in economics, obtained at Harvard, Cambridge and the famous school of the British elite, Eton. The man also speaks five languages ​​including French. So much so that from the top of his meter ninety-six, the minister has the reputation of being proud. But ” I like talking to him because we challenge each other. We exchange in a very reasonable way but without necessarily agreeing “Acknowledges Iain Begg, a professor attached to the London School of Economics.

Brilliant and extremely cultured, Kwasi Kwarteng has the natural ease of people from the breeding ground of Eton, as Boris Johnson before him, for example. But if one could recognize in the latter a lack of political program, Kwasi Kwarteng has a program for his country.

Read also: In the United Kingdom, the Conservative government is increasingly weakened

Kwasi Kwarteng is a pure product of the conservative family. He joined her at the same time as Liz Truss. At 47, they are a pair and are even close friends. With the Prime Minister, they share the same passion for Margaret Thatcher, the former head of the Conservative government. “ During all their youth, they only knew herexplains Alma-Pierre Bonnet, professor of British civilization at Sciences Po Lyon. They have a somewhat romanticized idea of ​​it, especially in its relationship with Europe. Because Margaret Thatcher was not totally Eurosceptic. But they only remember the “no no no”, only his strong opposition to Europe. And the same at the economic level, they have a rather romanticized vision and even try to go further “, completes the university.

« He is central to the Conservative Party today because he was for Brexit. He supports the markets, he wants to have lower taxes. It is all the same what the party proposes as a profound discourse “, underlines Professor Iain Begg, for whom while marrying his time and his context, Mr. Kwarteng also draws his inspiration from the American Ronald Reagan and his shock therapies for the economy.

Quarrels at all levels

The other side of the coin is that his method arouses a lot of criticism, including in his own ranks. As a result, the draft budget presented by Kwasi Kwarteng on September 23 caused an uproar among MPs, including Conservatives. And the ministerhad to back down on the controversial tax cut for the wealthy. His colleagues reproach him for a lack of consultation and listening to the budget control bodies. A shame for a party that presents itself as the most serious in the matter.

The Tories are now at their lowest in the polls, in favor of the Labor opposition. And the conservative party to once again display the image of a “nasty party” (“nasty party” in English), with quarrels at all levels. Image that should belong to the past. ” David Cameron, when he takes the lead of the Conservative Party [en 2005, ndlr]really worked on this “decontamination” from the conservative brandsays Pierre Bonnet. To show that it is a party of unity, which can manage the economy, which wants to take care of people, of everyone. I think the conservatives have that in mind », concludes the researcher.

Will Liz Truss go so far as to throw her friend under the bus, as some British newspapers predict? ” The Conservative Party is still a party that knows how to win elections, recalls Mr. Begg. So they are going to do things to support Kwarteng because otherwise they risk a lot of hardship, both for the party in general and for individual parties who risk losing their seats. I believe that the Conservatives will leave him anyway and close ranks, hoping that he will succeed “, underlines the university.

Kwasi Kwarteng who has decided to bring forward the date of presentation of a budget will he find the right balance? That’s the whole question. While he has become a scarecrow for a large part of the British now on strike by the hundreds of thousands to demand real economic support.

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