Kwasi Kwarteng was logical choice as chancellor but hubris was his downfall | Kwasi Kwarteng

When Kwasi Kwarteng became chancellor on 6 September it seemed a logical career progression. Deemed a politician imbued with economic doctrine, even his critics conceded he was determined and intellectually imposing. Five weeks and three days later, he is gone.

The newly restored backbench MP for Spelthorne in Surrey is not the shortest-serving chancellor of modern times, but only because the holder of that unwelcome title, Iain Macleod, died from a heart attack a month into his tenure in 1970.

Kwarteng’s political demise seems likely to go into political history as a tale of hubris: a minister so certain of his beliefs and impatient with others’ views that he made a series of avoidable errors, not least almost crashing the entire UK economy.

The economic mission he embarked on was, of course, a joint one with Liz Truss, and only time will tell whether the prime minister’s swift abandonment of Kwarteng will allow her to step sufficiently far away from the burning wreckage of a growth plan based on largely unfunded tax cuts.

Kwasi Kwarteng sacked: how his last 24 hours as chancellor unravelled – videoKwasi Kwarteng sacked: how his last 24 hours as chancellor unravelled – video

Truss’s allies will be able to point to ways in which Kwarteng seemed to make the turbulent market response to their mini-budget even worse, for example using TV interviews two days later to pledge that much more was to come.

In subsequent weeks his public appearances were not too reassuring either, for example a pedestrian Tory conference speech, hours after his decision to reverse the scrapping of the top 45p rate of tax. It also emerged that he had decided to attend a champagne reception with hedge fund managers after the mini-budget.

Overall, it has been an almost implausibly dramatic reversal of fortune for an MP whose career had well and truly taken off, and whose tax-cutting, small-state beliefs, incubated by thinktanks such as the Institute of Economic Affairs, chimed precisely with those of Truss, his friend and south-east London neighbour.

Born in Waltham Forest, north-east London, Kwarteng went to Eton on a scholarship, and later Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied classics and history and later completed a PhD on the recoinage crisis of 1695-97. His parents – an economist and a barrister – emigrated from Ghana as students.

After a spell in the City, Kwarteng was just 34 when he entered parliament, but endured an initially fallow period on the backbenches, co-authoring with Truss and others the Singapore-on-Thames Tory bible of Britannia Unchained, as well as writing a thoughtful book about the legacy of the British empire.

He began to climb the ranks in the last year of Theresa May’s government as a Brexit minister, and then under Boris Johnson, becoming first a business minister in 2019 and then business secretary in 2021.

While some colleagues and fellow MPs have been put off by a manner they describe as sometimes abrupt and arrogant, Kwarteng was generally seen as an effective business secretary, one calmly on top of a complex brief.

So he was the logical choice to be Truss’s chancellor, sidekick and ideological stablemate. It was billed as a partnership of equals, a new double act like George Osborne and David Cameron, one that could last for years. Instead it was over in 38 days.

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