Kwasi Kwarteng: what did the Chancellor say in Tory Conference 2022 speech following tax policy U-turn?

The Chancellor took to the stage in Birmingham after he announced that he was backtracking on the controversial 45p tax rate policy announced in the mini-budget

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Kwasi Kwarteng has addressed Conservative Party members at the party conference in Birmingham, after a tumultuous 10 days for the new administration.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been in the firing line, alongside Prime Minister Liz Truss, for his controversial tax-cutting budget. As Mr Kwarteng and Ms Truss told reporters that they wouldn’t be climbing down from their position on lower tax rates for higher earners, the Chancellor announced an embarrassing U-turn on Monday (3 October).

Now, Mr Kwarteng has taken to the stage at the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham to give his first speech since markets crashed in response to his mini-budget. Here’s everything he said.

Kwasi Kwarteng took to the stage in Birmingham. (Credit: PA)Kwasi Kwarteng took to the stage in Birmingham. (Credit: PA)
Kwasi Kwarteng took to the stage in Birmingham. (Credit: PA)

What did Kwasi Kwarteng say about the tax rate U-turn?

Taking to the stage, Mr Kwarteng opened his speech addressing the climbdown he was forced to take on tax policy earlier that day. He said: “What a day. It has been tough but we need to focus on the job in hand.

“We need to move forward. No more distractions. We have a plan and we need to get on and deliver it. That is what the public expects from the Government.”

Despite scrapping the policy which would have cut the tax rate for the highest earners from 45p to 40p, the Chancellor defended tax-cutting policies, describing them as fundamentally “Conservative”.

He said: “While we all believe in growth, we as Conservatives also believe that it is an important principle that people should keep more of the money they earn. I don’t need to tell you that. That isn’t radical, that isn’t irresponsible. It is a deeply-held belief that we all share as Conservatives.

“We were faced with a 70-year high tax burden. We were confronted with low growth and the path we were on was clearly unsustainable. So, that’s why we’re cutting taxes for working people.”

What else did Kwasi Kwarteng say in his speech?

Mr Kwarteng’s speech contained no massive policy announcements outside of those already announced in the mini-budget. Instead, the Chancellor chose to take digs at his predecessor Rishi Sunak for his economic policy.

Referring to “70-high tax burdens” and “a slow, managed decline”, Mr Kwarteng criticised his own party which has been in power since 2010. He said: “Our growth plan set out 10 days ago will ensure we focus relentlessly on economic growth. Because we must face up to the fact that for too long, our economy has not grown enough.”

The Chancellor also talked up the government’s energy plans. He said: “Annual energy bills of up to £6,500 from next year were staring us in the face.

“Everybody was worried. Now, we are holding down the price at an average of £2,500.

“Not just this winter, like the Labour Party promised, but next winter too: two years of significant taxpayer support to protect our people.”