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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
14 October 2022
How Kwasi Kwarteng's tenure ranks with other short-term Chancellors of Exchequer?

Kwasi Kwarteng

How Kwasi Kwarteng's tenure ranks with other short-term Chancellors of Exchequer?

With the news of Kwasi Kwarteng’s sacking from Liz Truss’s Cabinet, he has become one of the shortest-serving chancellors of all time - just 38 days in office.  

How does Kwarteng’s tenure in 11 Downing Street rank with the rest of the short-term chancellors of the Exchequer?

Kwasi Kwarteng: 38 days

They say a week is a long time in politics, well Kwarteng’s five-and-a-bit weeks were nothing different.  

He quickly set about announcing the government’s energy price guarantee, limiting the average annual bill to £2,500. His mini-Budget contained the biggest tax cuts in decades.

This caused chaos in the markets, the pound plummeted against the dollar, and there was genuine worry that the currencies may reach parity if the breaks weren’t slammed on. Labour said Kwarteng’s actions had “crashed the economy”.  

Following the frosty Tory party conference, the chancellor scrapped plans to abolish the top 45p rate of income tax.

The disastrous tenure ended as his trip to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C was cut short, amid pressures to reverse other areas of the mini-Budget.

Iain Macleod: 30 days

You have to go back to 1970 to find a chancellor that served a shorter term than Kwarteng.

Iain Macleod, who served as shadow chancellor for five years, died suddenly only 30 days after Edward Heath’s government assumed office in June 1970.  

Baron Denman: 31 days  

Only 17 years after the role of the chancellor was established in 1817, Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman, who served as Lord Chief Justice for 18 years between 1832 and 1850, acted as interim chancellor for 31 days.

Nadhim Zahawi: 63 days

Zahawi was appointed following the resignation of Rishi Sunak in July, in the final months of Boris Johnson’s government.

It was widely speculated at the time that the former chancellor would send his own letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister, as Sunak did. Opting to stay in his post, Zahawi still dealt a telling blow to Johnson telling him “You must do the right thing and go now”.

After Truss’s reshuffle in early September, he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

George Canning: 120 days

Very unusually, Canning served as prime minister and chancellor at the same time in 1827. However, his time in office was cut short when he died in August, after only entering in April.

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