The Conservative Party Conference has kicked off in Birmingham. Liz Truss faces a crucial few days at the event as she attempts to convince the Tory Party and wider British public that her government has a responsible economic plan.
Her competence has been cast into doubt since her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled a mini budget full of tax cuts requiring major government borrowing. This fiscal event didn’t have the customary independent economic forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
Things haven’t got off to a good start for Liz Truss in Birmingham. In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, the PM appeared to pin responsibility for a controversial income tax cut on her Chancellor, with former minister Nadine Dorries saying she had ‘thrown him under a bus’.
Kwasi Kwarteng then announced he was U-turning on the policy as he said it was becoming a “huge distraction” from the rest of his mini budget. He insisted it was a sign that the government was “listening” as well as “digesting what people were saying”.
It followed a bad weekend for Mr Kwarteng, after The Sunday Times reported he had sipped champagne with hedge fund managers just hours after his mini budget. Not only did the budget prove especially lucrative for the rich, but many hedge funds stood to gain from the subsequent crash in the pound.
So, with open questions swirling around the Chancellor’s future, when will he address the Conservative Party Conference? Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Kwasi Kwarteng hedge fund story?
According to The Sunday Times, Kwasi Kwarteng attended a private champagne reception held by City of London financiers just hours after the mini budget on 23 September.
In his mini budget, reversals to Rishi Sunak’s national insurance hike and a cut to the rate of income tax paid by the UK’s highest earners benefited wealthy people - many of whom work in the City - more than those on low to medium incomes.
As well as giving the party guests insights on forthcoming government spending cuts, it has been reported that hedge fund managers who were present at the bash egged on the Chancellor to go further with tax cuts - something Mr Kwarteng appeared to take on board.
Some hedge funds have benefited from the crash in the pound as they had ‘shorted’ - i.e. bet against - the currency. The Sunday Times also found that some of those who attended the champagne party have been describing the Chancellor as a “useful idiot”.
The allegations have called into question Kwasi Kwarteng’s political judgement, as well as his decision-making process when it comes to policy.
When is Liz Truss speech at Conservative Party Conference?
Liz Truss will be aiming to deliver a speech that will unify the Conservative Party and spark a turnaround in the polls when she closes Conservative Party Conference this week. It’s a job that appears to have become much harder for the Prime Minister given she launched a huge defence of the mini budget’s income tax change just 24 hours before it was scrapped.
The PM’s speech is due to take place on Wednesday 5 October. No exact timings have been released by the Tories, but she will take the floor at some point between 10am and 12pm.
NationalWorld will provide full coverage of the speech through its live blog. It is also likely to be broadcast live by BBC News and Sky News through their various channels, and by the Conservative Party itself both on social media and online.
When is Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative Party Conference Speech?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng will be taking to the Conservative Party Conference floor in advance of his boss, Liz Truss, this week.
He will give his speech on Monday (3 October) as part of a session that has been titled ‘Delivering a Growing Economy’. At present, we do not known exactly when he will give this speech, but it will be at some point between 4pm and 6pm on the day.
Mr Kwarteng is expected to address concerns with his mini budget, which economists have described as “catastrophically bad” and “economically dangerous”. He has sought to ease market anxiety in recent days by announcing a fiscal event that will include a medium-term plan and meeting with the OBR.
His speech has become all the more intriguing given his U-turn on scrapping the rate of income tax for the UK’s highest earners.
It appears early extracts of Mr Kwarteng’s conference address released on Sunday (2 October), which have also led newspaper front pages on Monday morning, may now have to be changed, especially a line that reads: “We must stay the course. I am confident our plan is the right one.”
Also speaking during this session will be former leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch, who is now International Trade Secretary. She will be joined by Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan, Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena and Department for Work and Pensions Secretary Chloe Smith.