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Former UK chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, whose name became synonymous with one of the most chaotic periods in recent British political history, has announced he will step down as an MP at the next general election.
Kwarteng, who ran the Treasury in 2022 under the shortlived premiership of Liz Truss, said he had informed his constituency association in Spelthorne of his decision on Monday.
He holds the seat in south-east England with a majority of 18,393, and joins the more than 50 Conservative MPs bowing out of politics at the election expected this year.
In September 2022, Kwarteng helped spearhead Truss’s ill-fated “mini” Budget. The fiscal event, which set out £45bn of unfunded tax cuts, triggered a jump in UK government borrowing costs, a fall in sterling to its weakest-ever level against the US dollar and a crisis in parts of the pension system.
“It has been an honour to serve the residents of Spelthorne since 2010, and I shall continue to do so for the remainder of my time in parliament,” Kwarteng posted on social media site X on Tuesday.
His announcement came on the day Truss launched Popular Conservatism at a conference in London. The new grassroots movement has said it aims to take on institutions standing in the way of “popular” policies and reform, despite 14 years of Tory government.
Kwarteng, who first entered the House of Commons in 2010, was business secretary under former prime minister Boris Johnson, making him the first Black Conservative MP to lead a UK government department.
When Johnson was toppled by his party and replaced by Truss, she appointed her long-standing political ally as chancellor.
But Truss’s administration ended within weeks as her popularity plunged in the wake of negative market reaction to the “mini” Budget.
In a desperate attempt to salvage her position, Truss brutally sacked her old friend after just 38 days in post and replaced him with the more centrist Jeremy Hunt, who reversed most of the unfunded tax cuts.
But with her authority irreparably damaged, Truss was herself forced out by parliamentary colleagues just days later, making her the shortest serving premier in UK history.
Kwarteng is the latest in a string of Conservative MPs to announce their departure at the next election. Their party, which has been in power since 2010, is trailing the opposition Labour party by about 20 points in opinion polls.
Former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, ex-health secretary Matt Hancock and former defence secretary Ben Wallace have all said they will stand down. Raab recently registered a part-time job as senior adviser to private equity group Appian Capital in which he earns £118,000 a year.
Kwarteng was expected to start an advisory role with Australian mining company Fortescue last year after he submitted an application to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, the body that vets jobs taken up by former ministers and senior civil servants.
In August last year, the committee ruled Kwarteng should not take up the role until at least October 2023, 12 months after he left government.
Last year, Kwarteng was caught out in a sting by undercover reporters from campaign group Led By Donkeys claiming to be from a South Korean company seeking to recruit an MP as an adviser.
Kwarteng expressed an interest in working for the non-existent company: telling the reporters: “I would say as an MP, obviously I don’t need to earn a king’s ransom . . . but I wouldn’t do anything less than for about $10,000 a month.”
Kwarteng was a financial analyst at banks including JPMorgan before entering politics and writing books on subjects ranging from Margaret Thatcher to a history of the finances of European empires.