Kwasi Kwarteng has said he warned Liz Truss that she risked cutting her premiership short by rushing radical economic reforms.
In an explosive interview, his first since being sacked as chancellor, Mr Kwarteng told TalkTV he advised Ms Truss to “slow down” and take a “methodical and strategic approach” to her goal of boosting growth.
He said the prime minister refused to accept that her £45bn package of unfunded tax cuts went too far, too fast, leading him to warn her “you will have two months if you carry on like this”. Ms Truss was forced out after 44 days.
Mr Kwarteng refused to apologise for his part in the chaos that followed the mini-Budget when asked whether he wanted to do so.
He acknowledged “there was turbulence and I regret that,” adding that he felt sorry for people who were remortgaging their homes after already rising repayment rates shot up in response to trouble in the gilt market that followed his 23 September fiscal statement.
Asked who controlled the timetable of the mini-Budget, Mr Kwarteng said that he bore “some responsibility for it” but added: “After the mini-Budget we were going at breakneck speed and I said, you know, we should slow down, slow down. She said, ‘Well, I’ve only got two years’ and I said, ‘You will have two months if you carry on like this’. And that is, I’m afraid, what happened.
“I think the prime minister was very much of the view that we needed to move things fast. But I think it was too quick.”
Mr Kwarteng also told TalkTV that he warned Ms Truss she would be out as prime minister within “three or four weeks” of sacking him as chancellor.
Speaking of his thinking when she fired him, Mr Kwarteng told the broadcaster: “This is mad. Prime ministers don’t get rid of chancellors. I think I said to her at the time: ‘This is going to last three or four weeks’. Little did I know it was only going to be six days.”
Ms Truss brought Mr Kwarteng, a friend, neighbour and longtime ideological ally, to Downing Street with her. He said they remained friends but he had yet to return a call from her after more than two days. “I will call her back,” he said.
Though he accepted the folly of his and Ms Truss’s so-called “dash for growth”, he used the interview to repeatedly warn Rishi Sunak that he could not “simply keep putting up taxes”.
He added that although he accepted that some tax rises were needed for now, “you’re not going to grow an economy or incentivise economic growth by putting up our taxes.”
Mr Kwarteng said Mr Sunak was a “very credible prime minister” but warned that he and the new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, should not blame all the government’s problems on the previous Downing Street tenants.
He said: “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. I mean, it wasn’t that the national debt was created by Liz Truss’s 44 days in government.”