The row between the chancellor and the business secretary is about what wins votes – fiscal conservatism or a green industrial revolution
The row between the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, is not a semantic joust, but a fight over the economic direction of the Tory party. Mr Kwarteng is looking for a bailout for businesses struggling with the jump in energy prices, and claimed on Sunday that he was “speaking” to the Treasury. Hours later, Mr Sunak’s advisers shot back. There were no talks. And this was not the first time, the Treasury source added, that Mr Kwarteng had “made things up in interviews”. Boris Johnson authorised his spokesperson to rebuff the Treasury. Both cabinet ministers were, said No 10, working to “mitigate the challenges”.
What the spat revealed is the unresolved issue within the corridors of power of how to resource a “green industrial revolution”. This policy is key to the government’s plan to level up parts of the country and deliver jobs to constituencies that switched from Labour to vote for Mr Johnson. Yet no credible plan has emerged from Whitehall. Time is running out. Pledges for carbon capture projects, for green steel plants and to roll out home insulation are worthless without being backed by cash.