British Prime Minister Liz Truss named a graduate of Harvard University Kwasi Kwarteng Britain’s new and first black finance minister.
The Ghana Business News (GBN) reports that Kwarteng, 47, is the first black man to be appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer and will be responsible for managing a UK economy still reeling from COVID-19 pandemicthe highest inflation rate in four decadesand an energy crisis due to the Ukraine-Russia war.
Kwarteng is the child of Ghanaian immigrants who attended Cambridge University and Harvard. The UK economy is set to slip into recession later this year, and Kwarteng backs Truss’ new free-market, low-tax economic approach.
“Kwasi Kwarteng has clearly been a big part of the Truss team… So she’s putting in someone who she feels shares her kind of philosophy and governance priorities,” said Jill Rutter, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government and former Treasury official. “The energy and business experience should stand him in good stead, in terms of understanding the real economy…what he hasn’t done is a lot of public service work or a great deal of expense.”
The Ivy League graduate is also an economic historian who wrote a book on Margret Thatcher and his economic legacy and a second book, co-authored by Truss. Kwarteng previously headed the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is a Brexit supporter.
Kwarteng’s critics have questioned his achievements at BEIS and his credentials at the Ministry of Finance.
“Some say he’s not tough enough to do the chancellor’s job at a time when Britain needs someone who can get things done,” one lawmaker told GBN, while a veteran Tory said the Treasury “would approve of his brains (but) disapprove of his independence.”
Kwarteng also said that despite experiencing racism and discrimination during his life, he does not see himself as a symbol of black success in the UK but as someone who serves his constituents.
“I actually think it’s not that bad,” Kwarteng said, according to GBN. “I think once you take stock, I don’t think it’s something that comes back so much.