‘Wasn’t the best way to go’: Kwarteng admits mistake of attending champagne reception after budget

Earlier today, in an interview, Kwasi Kwarteng, UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke up about his presence at the private champagne reception that stirred controversy, as it was hours after delivering his mini-budget speech. The reception was reportedly attended by Britain’s leading entrepreneurs, hedge fund managers and property developers. 

On Sunday, Anneliese Dodds, the labour party chair demanded a full list of attendees from her Conservative counterpart, Jake Berry. She also asked them to announce if they pledged donations or paid a fee to be there. According to the Guardian, in her letter, Dodds wrote, “Many people are sickened by the image of champagne-quaffing Conservative donors encouraging the chancellor to press ahead with further tax cuts for billionaires, at the same time as many members of the British public are unable to access a mortgage.” 

She further questioned if lawmakers and civil servants were present and if so were the minutes noted and “if not, then why not?” On the other hand, Berry during an interview said that people who donated to political parties were thanked at this party and should be “lauded”. This included entrepreneurs, hedge fund managers, and property developers who were present at the party, he said. 

However, he went on to clarify that it wasn’t a get-together of hedge fund managers but Britain’s leading entrepreneurs and when asked if hedge fund managers were also present he said “sure there were”. Berry added that “it’s the normal drumbeat of treasurer’s events that we have all the time,” reported Sky News. 

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Meanwhile, many people have alleged that the chancellor had given information regarding the upcoming government spending cuts during this event, hosted at the west London residence of a financier, on September 23. 

It was earlier that day that Kwarteng had announced the mini-budget which introduced the 45 billion pound package of tax cuts which would be set to benefit the richest fifth of households in the UK and subsequently triggered an economic turmoil. This led lawmakers and members of the opposing parties to call an inquiry about what the chancellor told the donors at this event. 

“While struggling homeowners saw their mortgage bills spiral, it seems the chancellor was sipping champagne with hedge fund managers profiting from the falling pound. How out of touch can you get? We need an official inquiry into this now,” said Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman, Sarah Olney. 

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The issue was brought up during an interview with the London Broadcasting Company (LBC), on Monday, where Kwarteng was questioned about why he went to a party with hedge fund managers after the mini-budget. In response, the chancellor indicated that it was an event by the Conservative party and he was not there for about a quarter an hour or so. 

“I think it was a difficult call and I totally get how it looks. I just feel that it was something that I was signed up to do and I had to do…With hindsight it probably wasn’t the best way to go,” said Kwarteng, when asked if he regretted attending the event. 

(With inputs from agencies)