Kwasi Kwarteng has the prime minister’s complete confidence and will stick to his growth plan, a minister has told Sky News.
Greg Hands, the international trade minister, said: “I know the prime minister’s got total confidence in Kwasi Kwarteng.
“I’ve worked very closely with Kwasi, he is an incredibly capable person, a very, very bright person who makes good judgment calls.
“And I have absolute confidence in Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor of the exchequer.”
‘Government in meltdown’ as expectation of mini-budget U-turn mounts – politics updates
Asked if Mr Kwarteng and Liz Truss will still be chancellor and prime minister in a month’s time, he said: “Yes, absolutely.”
Mr Hands refused to be drawn on reports they are set to reverse key parts of the tax-cutting mini-budget, which unleashed market turmoil when it was announced last month.
He repeatedly insisted the public will have to wait until Mr Kwarteng sets out details of how the billions in cuts will be paid for on 31 October, when he sets out his medium-term fiscal plan and the Office for Budget Responsibility publishes its forecast.
The chancellor was at IMF meetings in Washington DC this week but left a day early to arrive back in the UK today.
Mr Hands insisted it is “not unusual” for ministers to return from international visits a day early and said he is returning to have discussions with colleagues and to prepare for 31 October.
He reiterated Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng’s insistence that the UK’s market turmoil is part of a global problem exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and post-pandemic recovery.
‘Get behind Truss’
Mr Hands was asked about a report in The Times suggesting some Tory MPs are ready to replace Ms Truss with Rishi Sunak and Mr Kwarteng with Penny Mordaunt.
He rubbished that notion, saying he “does not recognize that story at all.”
Mr Hands, who supported Mr Sunak in the Tory leadership campaign, said he had spoken to Ms Mordaunt yesterday and would be “very surprised” if that was true.
“What we do need to do is the Conservative Party does need to unite behind our prime minister,” he said.
“She was our choice for the Conservative Party just a few weeks ago. We need to remain united, get together behind Liz Truss. Kwasi Kwarteng is our team.”
IMF criticizes UK government for ‘undermining’ Bank of England
‘Government in meltdown’
Labour’s Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary, accused the government of “taking people for fools” by claiming the economic turmoil is a global phenomenon.
“There is no other finance minister who’s rushing back on an airplane early from the IMF meetings,” he told Sky News.
“There’s no other country where the central bank is said to have an emergency buying spree. There’s no other country where a government’s economic policy is falling apart at the seams.
“You know, this is a collective meltdown on the part of the government. And, you know, the British people deserve so much better than what this government is putting the country through.”
Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts
Quizzed on why Labor MPs had supported the Conservative’s reversing the National Insurance rise earlier this week, Mr Miliband said that it is because “we’re not in favor of raising taxes on ordinary people”.
“More than half of the measures in the mini-budget were measures we oppose,” he added.