Kwasi Kwarteng

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Kwasi Kwarteng
Official portrait of Kwasi Kwarteng crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
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 byPosition abolished
Member of Parliament
for Spelthorne
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byDavid Wilshire
Majority18,393 (37.2%)
Personal details
Alfred Akwasi Addo Kwarteng

(1975-05-26) 26 May 1975 (age 46)
Waltham Forest, London, England
Political partyConservative
Harriet Edwards
(m. 2019)
Children1 daughter
EducationEton College
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
Harvard University

Kwasi Alfred Addo Kwarteng (born 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[edit]

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] 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[edit]

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 and solutions to traffic congestion in Britain.[13]

Political career[edit]

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).

An ardent Brexiteer, Kwarteng blotted his copybook with the Cameron government early on, by failing to vote with them against 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]

In April 2016, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid for Kwarteng and ten other Conservative MPs to visit Saudi Arabia on a "parliamentary fact-finding" mission. The Saudi Arabian government paid between £1,500 and £3,700 for each MP.[21]

Kwarteng backed the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union in the 2016 referendum.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] He was appointed to the Privy Council on the same day.[25]

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."[26]

In 2008, he received financial assistance from the secret group Le Cercle to attend a conference in Washington, DC[27] and in 2019 he was funded by the same group to attend a meeting in Bahrain.[28]

Kwarteng in 2021

On 8 January 2021, as part of a mini-reshuffle, he replaced Alok Sharma as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.[29] 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.[30] He has committed his department to cutting global emissions to stop climate change.[31] In May 2021, Kwarteng opened a new electric car battery plant in Oxfordshire.[32]

2021 United Kingdom gas crisis[edit]

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.[33] 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."[34] He also said that "The government will not be bailing out failed companies. There will be no rewards for failure or mismanagement."[35] 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."[36]

Personal life[edit]

Kwarteng was previously in a relationship with former Conservative Home Secretary Amber Rudd.[37]

Kwarteng married city solicitor Harriet Edwards in December 2019.[38] Their daughter was born on 15 October 2021.[39] He has considered veganism in order to combat climate change.[40]


  • Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World. Bloomsbury London. 2011. ISBN 9781408822906.
  • In collaboration with Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Liz Truss (2011). After the Coalition. Biteback, London. ISBN 9781849542128.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • In collaboration with Jonathan Dupont (2011). Gridlock Nation. Biteback, London. ISBN 9781849541121.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • In collaboration with Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Liz Truss (2012). Britannia Unchained: Global Lessons for Growth and Prosperity. Palgrave Macmillan, London. ISBN 9781137032232.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures and Debt. Bloomsbury, London. 2014. ISBN 9781408831687.
  • Thatcher's Trial: Six Months That Defined a Leader. Bloomsbury, London. 2015. ISBN 9781408859179.


  1. ^ a b c Anon (2017). "Kwarteng, Dr Kwasi Alfred Addo". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U251073. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8745.
  3. ^ "Kwasi Kwarteng MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC News. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  4. ^ "Tories adopt 'black Boris' as candidate", Staines News, 25 January 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d "Biography". Archived from the original on 10 May 2010. Archived at 10 July 2010.
  6. ^ "'2 out of 12 at 100' - Marking 100 years of Women in Law". Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  7. ^ Katwala, Sunder (31 July 2011). "Kwasi Kwarteng: The rising star of politics and letters". The Observer.
  8. ^ Kinchen, Rosie (4 May 2014). "Kwasi Kwarteng: Big brain, big mouth, big Tory future on hold". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  9. ^ " political database". Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  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. Free to read
  12. ^ Pickard, Jim (19 January 2021). "Kwasi Kwarteng, the free marketeer learning benefits of state action". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  13. ^ Poole, Steven (7 October 2011). "Et cetera: Steven Poole's non-fiction choice – reviews". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  14. ^ a b "Turn benefits into repayable loan, says Tory group". BBC News. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Power couple behind the new Tory throne", The Times, 26 March 2006.
  16. ^ Evans, Lisa (26 October 2011). "Naming the MPs who voted for an EU referendum". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  17. ^ Jowit, Juliette (22 March 2013). "Government's new housing policy 'can help wealthy buy second homes'". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  18. ^ "Tackle 'lazy' Britain, fellow Tories tell David Cameron". London Evening Standard. 17 August 2012.
  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. ^ Jon Stone (20 April 2016). "Saudi Arabia has paid for nearly a dozen Tory MPs to fly out and visit on 'fact-finding missions' this year". The Independent.
  22. ^ Stuart Reid (10 July 2016). "A Brexiteer's Celebration – a conversation with Kwasi Kwarteng". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  23. ^ "Stephen Barclay named new Brexit Secretary". BBC News. 16 November 2018.
  24. ^ 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.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Minister criticised for 'biased judges' comment". 12 September 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  27. ^ McKeon, Christopher (8 February 2019). "Here's how Surrey's MPs top up their £77,000 parliamentary salary". getsurrey. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  28. ^ "House of Commons - The Register of Members' Financial Interests (2 September 2019: Kwarteng, Kwasi )". Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  29. ^ "Government announcement of mini-reshuffle (8 Jan 21)".
  30. ^ Yorke, Harry (8 January 2021). "Kwasi Kwarteng becomes first black Conservative Secretary of State". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  31. ^ Watts, Rob (20 April 2021). "UK commits to 'world's most ambitious target' for emissions cuts". Upstream Online. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  32. ^ "New Battery factory which aims to enable electric cars to drive faster opens". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  33. ^ "Fuel crisis: Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng 'not guaranteeing anything' over impact on Christmas". Sky News. 29 September 2021.
  34. ^ "Where does the UK get its gas and is it facing a shortage this winter?". BBC News. 21 September 2021.
  35. ^ "UK gas supply issues will not see 'lights going out', business secretary Kwarteng says". The Irish Times. 20 September 2021.
  36. ^ "Kwasi Kwarteng vetoes subsidies for gas supply giants to take on rivals' clients". The Guardian. 23 September 2021.
  37. ^ White, Roland (23 September 2018). "Amber gives green light to suitors". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  38. ^ Collingridge, John (16 January 2021). "Challenging brief for cabinet new boy Kwasi Kwarteng". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ "U.K.'s Kwarteng Says He May Go Vegan to Tackle Climate Change". 22 April 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Spelthorne
Political offices
Preceded by
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Position abolished
Preceded by
Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy