Kwasi Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng Official Portrait Cropped.jpg
Official Portrait, 2021
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Assumed office
8 January 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAlok Sharma
Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth
In office
24 July 2019 – 8 January 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byClaire Perry
Succeeded byAnne-Marie Trevelyan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
In office
16 November 2018 – 24 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded bySuella Braverman
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Member of Parliament
for Spelthorne
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byDavid Wilshire
Majority18,393 (37.2%)
Personal details
Akwasi Addo Alfred Kwarteng

(1975-05-26) 26 May 1975 (age 47)
Waltham Forest, London, England
Political partyConservative
Harriet Edwards
(m. 2019)
EducationEton College
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
Harvard University

Kwasi Kwarteng (born Akwasi Addo Alfred Kwarteng; 26 May 1975)[1][2][3] is a British Conservative Party politician serving as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy since 2021. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Spelthorne since 2010.

On 16 November 2018, Kwarteng was appointed Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), following the resignation of Suella Braverman. Following the election of Boris Johnson as prime minister in July 2019, Kwarteng was promoted to Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, attending Cabinet as part of the role.

Early life and education

Kwarteng was born in the London Borough of Waltham Forest in 1975,[1] to parents Alfred K. Kwarteng and Charlotte Boaitey-Kwarteng, who had emigrated from Ghana as students in the 1960s.[4][5] His mother is a barrister[6] and his father an economist in the Commonwealth Secretariat.[5][7]

After starting school at a state primary school, Kwarteng attended Colet Court, an independent preparatory school in London, where he won the Harrow History Prize in 1988.[8] Kwarteng then went to Eton College,[1] where he was a King's Scholar and was awarded the prestigious Newcastle Scholarship prize. He read classics and history at Trinity College, Cambridge, achieving a first in both subjects[9] and twice winning the Browne Medal. He was a member of the team which won University Challenge in 1995 (in the first series after the programme was revived by the BBC in 1994).[5][10] He attended Harvard University on a Kennedy Scholarship, and then earned a PhD in economic history from the University of Cambridge in 2000.[11]

Early career

Before becoming a member of parliament, Kwarteng worked as a columnist for The Daily Telegraph and as a financial analyst at JPMorgan Chase and other investment banks.[12] He wrote a book, Ghosts of Empire, about the legacy of the British Empire, published by Bloomsbury in 2011.[5] He also co-authored Gridlock Nation with Jonathan Dupont in 2011, about the causes of and solutions to traffic congestion in Britain.[13]

Political career

Kwarteng in 2017
Kwarteng in 2017

Considered "a rising star on the right of the party",[14] Kwarteng was the Conservative candidate in the constituency of Brent East at the 2005 general election. He finished in third place behind the incumbent Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather (who had won the seat in a 2003 by-election) and Yasmin Qureshi of the Labour Party. Kwarteng was chairman of the Bow Group in 2005–06. In 2006, The Times suggested that he could become the first black Conservative cabinet minister.[15] He was sixth on the Conservative list of candidates for the London Assembly in the 2008 London Assembly election, but was not elected as the Conservatives claimed only three London-wide list seats.

Kwarteng was selected as the Conservative candidate for Spelthorne at an open primary in January 2010 after the incumbent Conservative MP, David Wilshire, became mired in controversy arising from the Parliamentary expenses scandal and announced that he would be retiring from Parliament at the next general election.

Kwarteng won the seat with 22,261 votes (numerically more votes but a lower percentage of the vote than his predecessor).

Kwarteng did not vote on the backbench EU Referendum Bill in October 2011.[16]

Kwarteng irritated Chancellor George Osborne in 2013 by criticising the Help to Buy housing scheme as inflationary.[17]

In August 2012, Kwarteng co-authored a book with four fellow MPs titled Britannia Unchained. The authors made a number of remarks and suggestions, including that "Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world".[18] The book argues for a radical shrinking of the welfare state in order "to return it to the contributory principle envisioned by its founder Sir William Beveridge – that you get benefits in return for contributions".[14]

In 2014, his book War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures and Debt was published. It is a history of capital and the enduring ability of money, when combined with speculation, to ruin societies.[19] The book has been translated into Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. In 2015 his next book, Thatcher's Trial: Six Months That Defined a Leader, was published.

Kwarteng was re-elected on 7 May 2015 with an increased majority.[20]

Kwarteng backed the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union in the 2016 referendum.[21]

Following the 2017 general election, Kwarteng was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.

On 16 November 2018, Kwarteng replaced Suella Braverman as a minister in the Department for Exiting the EU.[22]

Kwarteng was a vocal supporter of Boris Johnson in the 2016 and 2019 Conservative Party leadership elections. After Johnson's victory in the latter election, on 25 July 2019 Kwarteng was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy along with Jo Johnson, brother of the Prime Minister.[23] He was appointed to the Privy Council on the same day.[24]

In September 2019, Kwarteng was criticised by former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell for stating on The Andrew Neil Show: "I'm not saying this, but, many people are saying that the judges are biased" after the Court of Session ruled that Boris Johnson's prorogation of parliament was illegal. Kwarteng added: "The extent to which lawyers and judges are interfering in politics is something that concerns many people."[25]

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

On 8 January 2021, as part of a mini-reshuffle, he replaced Alok Sharma as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.[26] He became the second black man to serve in the Cabinet, the first being Paul Boateng, who served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and the first black Conservative. He also became the first black man to run a government department by being appointed to the level of Secretary of State.[27] He has committed his department to cutting global emissions to stop climate change.[28] In May 2021, Kwarteng opened a new electric car battery plant in Oxfordshire.[29]

In March 2021 he was criticised for dissolving the Industrial Strategy Council, the advisory body seeking to regenerate Britain's regions.[30]

In the days after the COP26 climate summit Kwarteng met oil industry bosses to encourage them to continue drilling in the North Sea.[31]

2021 gas crisis

Main article: 2021 United Kingdom natural gas supplier crisis

From August 2021, high European wholesale natural gas prices caused some smaller domestic suppliers in the United Kingdom to go out of business. In September 2021, the fuel supply crisis caused serious disruption to the supply of road fuel.[32] Kwarteng said that "There is no question of the lights going out, of people being unable to heat their homes. There will be no three-day working week, or a throwback to the 1970s."[33] He also said that "The government will not be bailing out failed companies. There will be no rewards for failure or mismanagement."[34] Ed Miliband, Labour's shadow business secretary, accused Kwarteng of being "complacent about the situation we are facing" as though it "was normal for a number of suppliers to go down each winter. But what we are dealing with is far from normal – 800,000 customers losing their suppliers yesterday alone, 1.5 million in the last six weeks."[35]

Role in the Owen Paterson scandal

Kwarteng was an outspoken supporter of Owen Paterson, who had been found by the Committee on Standards to have committed "an egregious case of paid advocacy".[36] In reaction to this ruling, Kwarteng called for the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, to "decide her position". The government later U-turned its support for Paterson, who resigned as an MP. The opposition called for an investigation into Kwarteng, claiming he may have breached the ministerial code.[37]

On 15 November 2021, Kwarteng published a letter of apology to Stone, in which he said he "did not mean to express doubt about your ability to discharge your role" and apologised for "any upset or distress my choice of words may have caused".[38]

Personal life

Kwarteng was previously in a relationship with former Conservative Home Secretary Amber Rudd.[39]

Kwarteng married city solicitor Harriet Edwards in December 2019.[40] Their daughter was born on 15 October 2021.[41]



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  10. ^ "Trinity on University Challenge". Sean Blanchflower.
  11. ^ Kwarteng, Kwasi Alfred Addo. The political thought of the recoinage crisis of 1695–7. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 894597679. EThOS Retrieved 25 March 2018. icon of an open green padlock
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  19. ^ Anthony Sattin (12 May 2014). "War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures and Debt review – a comprehensive study of money and society". The Observer.
  20. ^ "Spelthorne Parliamentary constituency results (2015 General Election)". BBC News.
  21. ^ Stuart Reid (10 July 2016). "A Brexiteer's Celebration – a conversation with Kwasi Kwarteng". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Stephen Barclay named new Brexit Secretary". BBC News. 16 November 2018.
  23. ^ Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason, Jessica Elgot, Peter Walker (25 July 2019). "Who's who in Boris Johnson's first cabinet". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  25. ^ "Minister criticised for 'biased judges' comment". 12 September 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Alok Sharma becomes full-time COP26 president and Kwasi Kwarteng is appointed as Secretary of State for Business". GOV.UK (Press release). 8 January 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  27. ^ Yorke, Harry (8 January 2021). "Kwasi Kwarteng becomes first black Conservative Secretary of State". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  28. ^ Watts, Rob (20 April 2021). "UK commits to 'world's most ambitious target' for emissions cuts". Upstream Online. Retrieved 10 May 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ Whittaker, Rebecca (8 May 2021). "New Battery factory which aims to enable electric cars to drive faster opens". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  30. ^ Inman, Phillip (4 March 2021). "UK business leaders condemn 'sad and bad' axing of industrial strategy panel". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  31. ^ Gosden, Emily (3 January 2022). "Kwasi Kwarteng courted oil bosses after Cop26". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  32. ^ Morris, Sophie (29 September 2021). "Fuel crisis: Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng 'not guaranteeing anything' over impact on Christmas". Sky News. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
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  34. ^ Staunton, Denis (20 September 2021). "UK gas supply issues will not see 'lights going out', business secretary Kwarteng says". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  35. ^ Ambrose, Jillian (23 September 2021). "Kwasi Kwarteng vetoes subsidies for gas supply giants to take on rivals' clients". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  36. ^ "UK lawmaker should be suspended over 'egregious' paid lobbying - watchdog". Reuters. 26 October 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  37. ^ Morris, Sophie (4 November 2021). "Owen Paterson resignation: Labour call for investigation into Kwasi Kwarteng's comments to Sky News about standards watchdog". Sky News. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
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  39. ^ White, Roland (23 September 2018). "Amber gives green light to suitors". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
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  41. ^ Greg HandsMinister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth (19 October 2021). "Net Zero Strategy and Heat and Buildings Strategy". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons.