Kwasi Kwarteng is the appointed secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy. After a successful 10years in politics, he became the first black British Conservative to run his own government department.
Kwarteng got a seat in Parliament in 2010 and arrived with an Eton scholarship, a Cambridge PhD, a high-flying City career, all under his belt. By this time, he had written several books on history and politics, sharing his right-wing ideals.
Kwarteng, 45, was born in Waltham Forest, east London and is of Ghanian heritage. His mother was a barrister, and his father was an economist. At 8, Kwarteng was sent away to boarding school and later attended the prestigious Eton College, where pupils described him as a thoughtful student. He also studied as a historian at Trinity University.
Once he decided to embark on a career in politics, he evolved into a politician determined to find his space in Government. To some people, Kwarteng comes across as harsh, while he is intentional and decisive to others. Never one to flip flop on his beliefs or out to bend for the masses, he is here for the business.
Kwarteng has been called impulsive, and critics believe this trait can get him into trouble. As much as he and David Cameron are on the same team, he did not care for Cameron’s softly does it approach. Some people believe that Kwarteng and Cameron not being on the same page hindered his career in some ways.
Kwarteng is not afraid of criticism and is open to having conversations with controversial figures and oil barons. He has made it clear that he does not believe in wagging his fingers while standing on the sidelines. You have to go where you’ve never been to understand what is going on truly. Kwarteng has travelled far and wide for research purposes, and Tory donors and foreign governments paid for these trips. He believed doing things this way gave him a greater chance of influencing behaviour.
Kwarteng ruffled the feather of Downing Street when he advocated for cutting VAT to 15% and add the charge to essentials such as food and children’s clothes. Kwarteng also criticised the chancellor’s Help to Buy housing scheme. One colleague once said, “Kwasi really did not rate their politics or their intellect. And they were a little intimidated by him”.
His book “Britannia Unchained: Global Lessons for Growth and Prosperity shows his emblazoned beliefs. Kwarteng created the book with fellow Brexiters Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Liz Truss and Chris Skidmore.
The book included a paragraph stating, “The British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor,”. Demonstrating he’s ready to challenge the unions over workers rights if he had to.
Always about the business, in 2017, Kwarteng argued in favour of the US and UK backing Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan warlord, because Haftar controlled much of the country’s oil. This meant the UK and US would no longer support the Government of National Accord (GNA),
“Such a move would not strictly conform to the ideals of ‘democratic state building’ but it might provide a stable government to give Libya some control of its borders,” -Kwasi Kwarteng for the Evening Standard.
Kwarteng is liked among his peers and seniors and is known for being fun and frequents the Carlton Club, where he enjoys a good tipple. He’s dated several party members, including former home secretary Amber Rudd, and married Harriet Edwards, a City solicitor, in 2019. The diarist Sasha Swire, wife of the former MP Hugo Swire, described him as “essentially an academic; he is enthusiastic and bombastic, and barely draws breath.”
Kwarteng consistently backed Johnson to become the party leader and received the job as energy minister in 2017. So far, Kwarteng has done what he deems necessary for economic growth Britain deserves. His determination and passion are to combine private enterprise and Government policy. The legacy Kwarteng is creating will be pinned by how he pushed for economic growth and the international success that comes from it.
Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street