Business

Bankers back in PM's tent

  • 23 January 2014
  • From the section Business
  • comments

Goodness me, the prime minister has made the bold judgement that bankers have been sufficiently rehabilitated to appoint a couple of them as his business ambassadors.

As I understand it, the chairman of HSBC, Douglas Flint, and the chief executive of Santander UK, Ana Botin, will on Friday be announced as joining the ranks of business grandees chosen by David Cameron to sell the UK to the world.

Which is quite something. Since it is a while since the government wanted to be too closely associated with top bankers.

There is a nuance here of course. Which is that HSBC and Santander UK are those rarities, banks that got through the banking crisis without needing to be propped up by taxpayers.

As it happens, I've just interviewed the prime minister, who is in Davos lauding the attractions of the UK to overseas companies and investors.

You can see that interview later on the BBC, on the Six O'Clock News, and at Ten.

He was in ebullient mood, having just come from a meeting with Chinese financial institutions who were - he said - remarkably bullish about the UK's prospects.

And another thing. As you know, the UK is suffering from trade and current account deficits that are large and intractable.

Narrowing that gap hasn't been helped by the wounds - many of them self-inflicted - of our big international banks.

The prime minister is sending a message that he would rather like those wounds to heal.