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Kwarteng’s ‘shock and awe’ entrance leaves Treasury reeling

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theguardian.com

Kwasi Kwarteng’s “shock and awe” approach to taking over as chancellor has sent jitters rippling among officials, with concerns raised that his close relationship with the prime minister and the two most senior civil service roles remaining unfilled could mark a turbulent time for the Treasury.Amid fears about the UK teetering on the brink of recession, the aftershocks of Tom Scholar’s sacking as permanent secretary have left many civil servants feeling raw and concerned about the leadership at the Treasury.They said it was proof he was willing to emulate Liz Truss, who earlier this week said she was willing to be unpopular for the sake of driving through what she thought were correct changes for the country.One Treasury official said the building was “still angry and really shellshocked” by the sudden departure of Scholar and was really missing his gravitas as Kwarteng rushes through a completely new economic direction and swingeing tax cuts without full costings being made public.Another said that staff “very, very upset” at the way Scholar was treated – with some even said to have been “in tears” and what they believed was a “shock and awe” approach to asserting control.A third Whitehall insider suggested Scholar could have “kicked up a fuss” about Kwarteng ploughing ahead with significant tax changes despite the lack of evidence around costings, given the Office for Budget Responsibility is not expected to release a forecast on Friday. “It looks a bit like we’re avoiding having our own homework marked,” sighed one Tory MP.The roles previously occupied by Scholar and his former deputy, Charles Roxburgh, remain unfilled.

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