Hunt dismisses Kwarteng’s claim that mini-budget not to blame for state of UK finances – UK politics live

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Labour criticises Kwarteng for refusing to apologise for impact of his mini-budget

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, has criticised Kwasi Kwarteng, the former chancellor, for refusing to apologise for the impact of his mini-budget in his interview with Talk TV last night.

Even after the wrecking ball mini-budget, Kwasi Kwarteng said “there’s more to come”. His own MPs sat on their hands as the disaster unfolded.

The Tories crashed the economy – and they won’t even apologise to you for all the damage they’ve

— Angela Rayner 🌹 (@AngelaRayner) November 11, 2022

When Kwarteng was asked by the present, Tom Newton Dunn, if he would apologise to people who had to pay more for their mortgages after the mini-budget, as lenders put their interest rates up in response to the assumption in the markets that Kwarteng’s policies would lead to the Bank of England raising interest rates by more than expected, Kwarteng replied:

I’m not going to, I’m not going to comment on that. I think it was regrettable. And I think people were very, very concerned. Interest rates were going up. The Bank of England has put interest rates up and all of that was happening. But there was turbulence and I regret that.

Newton Dunn asked Kwarteng twice more if he would apologise, but Kwarteng continued to refuse. “I don’t want to relive the past,” he said. “I just want to focus on where we are next week.”

But he did say he felt sorry for what people who were having to remortgage were going through. “I really feel sympathy for that,” he said. But he still felt the “strategic goals” of the mini-budget were right, he said, even though the implementation was flawed.

I will post more from the Kwarteng interview shortly. Here is our overnight story on it, by my colleague Nadeem Badshah.

As my colleague Lisa O’Carroll reports, Rishi Sunak seemed to make a reasonably good impression when he held his first face to face meeting with the taoiseach, Micheál Martin, last night, at the opening of the British-Irish Council summit.

The Irish government’s account of the meeting is here.

Sunak’s meetings with Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, and Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, were also described as constructive. His predecessor, Liz Truss, did not even both putting in a courtesty call to them in her short time as PM, and Boris Johnson’s relations with them both were fractious.

This is from Sky News.

Rishi Sunak has met Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for his first face-to-face meeting with her since becoming prime minister.

She described their meeting as “cordial and constructive”.


📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube

— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 10, 2022

And this is from Adrian Masters, ITV Cymru’s political editor.

The most positive I’ve heard the Welsh Govt be for years following talks with a Prime Minister. A spokesperson says that “it’s worth noting that the feeling is the relationship with the U.K. Govt is back to normal after a strange couple of years.”

— Adrian Masters (@adrianmasters84) November 10, 2022

Good morning. We’ve got less than a week to go now until the autumn statement – in effect, the second budget of the autumn – and already a blame game has broken out in the Conservative party about who is responsible for the massive spending cuts and tax rises the nation is about to face.

In an interview with Talk TV last night, his first since he was sacked as chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, rejected claims that his mini-budget was primarily to blame. When it was put to him that Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, were going to blame him for all the problems, Kwarteng replied:

You know, the only thing that they could possibly blame us for is the interest rates and interest rates have come down and the gilt rates have come down. The black hole and structural problems are already there. I mean, it wasn’t that the national debt was created by Liz Truss’s 44 days in government.

When he was challenged again, Kwarteng even questioned whether it was right to talk about a black hole in the first place. He said:

The national debt wasn’t radically changed by Liz Truss … There isn’t a black hole and the interest rates and the gilt rate funding the debt is exactly the same as it was before the mini-budget. So the black hole hasn’t been caused by the mini budget. It’s something that Jeremy and Rishi and their officials are going to have to tackle on their own regardless of what happened in the budget.

But Hunt does not accept this. He was asked about Kwarteng’s claim in an interview with Sky News this morning, and he replied:

All I would say is that when we produced a fiscal statement that didn’t show how we were going to bring our debts down over the medium term, the markets reacted very badly and so we have learned that you can’t fund either spending or borrowing without showing how you are going to pay for it and that is what I will do.

Hunt did not engage with Kwarteng’s specific argument, but he was clearly implying that his predecessor was at fault.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt responds to comments made by his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng, saying: ‘we’ve learnt that you can’t fund spending or borrowing without showing how you’ll pay for it – and that’s what I’ll do’.

📺 Sky 501, Freeview 233 and YouTube

— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 11, 2022

Hunt was giving an interview to respond to this morning’s growth figures showing the economy shrank by 0.2% in the third quarter of the year. Larry Elliott and Richard Partington have the full story here.

And Graeme Wearden has more on the business live blog.

Parliament is not sitting today, and there is not much in the diary. But Keir Starmer is visiting veterans in north London, and Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, is due to hold a press conference at around 12.45pm at the end of the British-Irish Council summit.

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