JHere, like real wars, briefing wars in Whitehall come with varying degrees of intensity. Usually only a few hand grenades are thrown over the department wall: an anonymous derogatory remark about the controversial genesis of an impracticable policy or the prospects of a beleaguered colleague in the event of an impending ministerial reshuffle. The conflict between the treasury and the economics department has escalated at a remarkable rate.
Within 45 minutes of Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s appearance on BBC One The Andrew Marr Show On Sunday, the Chancellor’s allies fired weapons of mass destruction at Kwarteng and told the rolling news channels that the poor guy would make it up. Kwarteng crouched in his bunker and shot back, but the Treasury Department went nuclear and accused Kwarteng of “strolling into” a meeting without finishing his paperwork (sounds familiar).
Kwarteng felt the need to call in a close political ally when he came under such heavy bombing by the Treasury Department, and so the hotline to Marbella was activated. No. 10 soon let it be known that Boris Johnson was on Kwarteng’s side and that Rishi Sunak would “have to give in”. Heavy industry, which begs for help with rising energy bills, is getting financial support. Or at least that’s the line for today.