Politics

Sunak’s ‘humiliating’ Kwarteng slap down reveals ‘big frustration’ with energy business

Treasury's 'humiliating slapdown' to Kwarteng discussed by expert

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered a “humiliating slapdown” on Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng after the Treasury publically distanced themselves from Mr Kwarteng’s claims of incoming support for struggling businesses. Mr Kwarteng had hinted that he was working with the Treasury to secure financial aid to firms hit hard by the energy crisis, however, Mr Sunak’s team poured cold water on the suggestion amid “big frustration” at the Treasury.

Sky Correspondent Tamara Cohen said: “He was saying look we are talking to the treasury and the treasury immediately hit back through a source saying ‘no we are not, he is making it up.’

“It reflects, I think a big frustration at the Treasury that perhaps we hadn’t fully appreciated until it boiled over into the open that these companies may feel that the checkbook is about to open and they are going to get some kind of bailout.

“When the message all along has been from all Government ministers that they can’t bail out private companies when it is individuals who they want to be looking after over the next few months who are going to have a very difficult time.

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“But certainly it looked like a very humiliating slapdown to the business secretary who is going to be having more meetings with those people this week.

She added: “I am told by people in Government this morning that he is not going to be sitting around the table with them all today thrashing out a solution.

“But this is his big focus, the Business Secretary is engaging with those companies all the time.

“The background is now there is no more money for you so you can keep asking for it but it is not going to there.”

It comes as the Business Secretary indicated on Sunday that he is working closely with Chancellor to help struggling companies.

However, a senior Treasury source insisted to the PA news agency that no such talks have taken place.

Home Office Minister Damian Hinds was later pressed by Kay Burley on Sky News on whether Mr Kwarteng has lied about the level of Treasury support.

He said: “These unnamed sources’ stories come out from time to time.

“The fact is Government departments, Government ministers talk to each other the whole time and of course with an issue like this, with these rising global prices and business having to grapple and deal with it to make sure they break even and can make a margin, of course, that is something that the Business Secretary – and of course the Energy Secretary – is going to be totally focussed on.

“Something that the Treasury, of course, is also very focussed on as the economic management department of the nation.”

Mr Kwarteng had told Sky News earlier: “We are speaking constantly with them to see if there is a way through it and are also engaging Treasury as well.

“I can’t promise anything as yet but we are absolutely focused on solving this problem.”

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