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HENRY DEEDES: Tories greeted this course in Kwasinomics with a sonic boom of cheers 

Gung-ho Tories greeted this crash course in Kwasinomics with a sonic boom of cheers.  The more cautious guys gaped nervously

Kwasi Kwarteng sat nonchalantly at the Commons, his head thrown back, his legs spread, almost as if he were reclining on a lounge chair on a sunny beach.

For a man about to deliver a speech that could arguably decide the fate of the government – if not the whole country – the Chancellor was a cool man. All that was missing was a rum cocktail adorned with a flippant umbrella next to it, a bottle of Piz Buin, and a dog-eared copy of Jeffrey Archer’s latest potboiler.

Such nonchalant behavior was all the more impressive when it turned out that he was about to launch the most brash and daring budget announcement in decades. A veritable tax bonfire, sending great flaming embers of regulation and bureaucracy swirling over Westminster.

Gung-ho Tories greeted this crash course in Kwasinomics with a sonic boom of cheers.  The more cautious guys gaped nervously

Gung-ho Tories greeted this crash course in Kwasinomics with a sonic boom of cheers. The more cautious guys gaped nervously

His so-called “mini-budget” wasn’t so much a hat-trick as a series of Paul Daniels-esque poppers that left much of his audience stunned. Not all for the same reason.

Gung-ho Tories greeted this crash course in Kwasinomics with a sonic boom of cheers. The more cautious guys gaped nervously. Sajid Javid leaned forward, staring blankly at the ground. Former party chairman Oliver Dowden, a man so frugal you can imagine him reusing his teabags, has taken on an ominous shade of green. Will Kwarteng’s plans work? Who knows. But as it debuted, it was a gargantuan statement of intent.

The Chancellor was ordered to rise by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle at 9.34am. The room was full but far from shocked. Rumor had it that government whips had advised some of their more bolshy MPs to leave early on the weekend.

“It’s a new approach for a new era,” Kwarteng announced confidently. While his predecessor Rishi Sunak might have stood tall with a crate of beer, Kwarteng’s vast frame dwarfed the shipping box, his fingers gripping it tightly, as if trying to strangle a particularly stubborn battery chicken.

The Chancellor was ordered to rise by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle at 9.34am.  The room was full but far from shocked

The Chancellor was ordered to rise by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle at 9.34am. The room was full but far from shocked

Prime Minister Liz Truss with Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, who presented her mini-budget on Friday

Prime Minister Liz Truss with Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, who presented her mini-budget on Friday

The voice is also deep and strong, like a fine marinade of armagnac and cigars. Even when Kwarteng unveiled the details of his extensive home energy bill relief program, he almost sounded soothing.

As it was only a mini-budget, the Chancellor only had half an hour to speak. But damn it, he’s had enough.

Gradually, the Johnson-era spending spree on taxes and expenses was relegated to the waste disposal unit. Gone is the hated rise in National Insurance. Hooray! Exit also the proposed increase in duties on beer and cider. Double hooray!

There would also be VAT-free purchases for foreign visitors. That sound you may have heard while saying that? Oh, just the collective popping of champagne corks in the posh emporiums of Bond Street.

Nodding approvingly at his side, Simon Clarke, intelligent secretary of the Leveling-up, had glasses as thick as two bottles of Coca-Cola.

On the other side, Prime Minister Liz Truss looked incredibly polite considering she had just landed from New York.

As the Chancellor continued to set out his bold economic vision, the grunts and laughter from Labor MPs grew louder and louder.

As the Chancellor continued to set out his bold economic vision, the grunts and laughter from Labor MPs grew louder and louder.

Of his predecessor Boris Johnson, there was no sign. Also missing was Rishi Sunak. Manning his Yorkshire constituency, perhaps. Or slumming in his third home under the California sun?

Meanwhile, as the Chancellor continued to set out his bold economic vision, the grunts and laughter from Labor MPs grew louder. There were particularly loud moos about the long-drawn-out promise to remove the cap on banker bonuses.

Towards the back of the chamber, the famous crypto-communist John McDonnell looked like a man who had just had a particularly pungent gorgonzola cheese placed under his nostrils. No reaction, I noticed, from City leader Ian Blackford. Then came the juice. “Mr. President, we come to the question of personal taxation,” Kwarteng said. “We believe it’s an important principle that people should keep more of the money they earn.”

His voice was now starting to croak. If it was budget day, that was when a big Scotch and a soda would have come in handy.

Dividend tax was also for the chop. A heavy cut also for the stamp duty. But the big zinger was the 5% reduction in the top tax rate to 40%.

The initial reaction from Tory backbenchers, however, was surprisingly muted. It is possible that Kwarteng did not play enough. Either that or MPs were nervous about having to sell him to their most hardened constituents.

“An admission of 12 years of economic failure,” was the verdict of Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, in one of her flatter, quieter joint performances.

Had Rachel’s advisers told her to tone it down a bit? Some of the more deaf members will at least be able to turn their hearing aids back on.

To some degree, Reeves was right, of course. For too long our economy has wobbled, limping along to the beat of Treasury boffins and all their sweet, sweet orthodoxy.

In Kwarteng yesterday, there was a desire to throw off the chains and throw caution to the wind. Westminster’s tectonic plates are moving.

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