Ex-U.K. finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng to step down from politics

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Kwasi Kwarteng, who served as the U.K.’s finance minister during the mini-budget crisis which saw Britain’s pound drop to its lowest ever levels against the U.S. dollar, has said he will not stand for reelection as a member of parliament.

The British politician, who had previously worked for London hedge fund Odey Asset Management before being elected the MP for Skelthorpe in 2010, said that he will not stand in the U.K.’s upcoming general elections, which must be held by Jan. 28 2025 at the latest.

Kwarteng, who also worked as a financial analyst at JP Morgan prior to entering politics, was given the job of finance minister by Britain’s shortest serving prime minister, Liz Truss, following her victory in an internal Conservative party vote in September 2022.

The vote saw Truss take over from her predecessor, Boris Johnson, following the announcement of his resignation in July 2022, in the midst of a revolt among MPs over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Tory MP Chris Pincher.  

As chancellor, Kwarteng subsequently announced plans to implement a controversial “mini-budget,” which was met with an overwhelmingly negative response, that saw Britain’s sterling plunge to all -time lows. 

The mini-budget proposed an array of tax cuts that led to concerns among economists the U.K. would be forced to increase borrowing. The International Monetary Fund later called on Britain to “re-evaluate” its plans as it warned the mini-budget would “likely increase inequality.”

The prime minister later asked Kwarteng to resign, just 38 days after taking up the post, as she replaced him with current Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, and reversed parts of the mini budget, in a bid to reassure financial markets. 

Truss herself became Britain’s shortest ever serving prime minister after resigning just 45 days after taking up office. Kwarteng became the U.K.’s second shortest serving chancellor after ex-Tory minister Iain MacLeod who died 13 days into his tenure, in July 1970. 

Born to Ghanaian parents in London in 1975, Kwarteng attended Britain’s prestigious Eton College before going on to study classics and history at Trinity College, Cambridge. He later studied at Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar before returning to Cambridge University to complete a PhD in the economic history of the Great Recoinage Crisis of 1696.

Kwarteng separately faced scrutiny after the hedge fund owned by his former boss, Crispin Odey, was revealed to have made huge gains by shorting the pound, just weeks after Odey met the ex-finance minister for lunch. 

Odey later shut Odey Asset Management, in October 2023, after a Financial Times investigation raised allegations the hedge fund manager had sexually harassed and assaulted 13 women. 

Kwarteng said he will continue serving as MP for Skelthorpe until the end of his term. MarketWatch contacted Kwarteng’s parliamentary office for comment. 

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