Why did the chancellor tell me Hinkley 'will go ahead' five days ago?

  • 29 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Philip Hammond Image copyright Reuters

When you are chancellor, you tend to know pretty much everything that is going on in government.

So the fact that Philip Hammond told me at the weekend that Hinkley "will go ahead" raises a whole host of possibilities, from the intriguing to the mundane.

For the sake of completeness, here is the full exchange between the chancellor and me when I interviewed him at the G20 summit in Chengdu, China, last Sunday.

Kamal Ahmed: "One of the big issues [in China/UK relations] is of course Hinkley. We could be very close to a final decision on that huge new nuclear power station in Somerset. Is the government still wholly committed to that plan despite the criticisms that it is far too expensive a way to provide energy for the UK?"

Philip Hammond: "The decision we are making about investing in new nuclear power infrastructure is a 50-year time horizon decision, this is not about looking at what prices are today. It is about thinking about our energy security needs over the next 50, 60 years. This decision is now in the hands of EDF, the French company which hopefully will be in a position to make a final investment decision over the next few days."

Read full article Why did the chancellor tell me Hinkley 'will go ahead' five days ago?

Take care over these economic figures

  • 27 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Cars Image copyright Getty Images

Looking in the rear view mirror doesn't always tell you much about the road ahead.

And that is essentially what today's second quarter economic growth figures are about - a health check on the road behind us, not a snap shot of the here and now.

Read full article Take care over these economic figures

UK explores multi-billion pound free trade deal with China

  • 24 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Philip Hammond Image copyright Getty Images

Philip Hammond has begun discussions with China on an ambitious free trade deal which could see greater access for major Chinese banks and businesses to the UK economy.

The chancellor told me that despite a short term economic shock to the economy of Britain leaving the European Union, it was now time to explore "new opportunities" across the world.

Read full article UK explores multi-billion pound free trade deal with China

Could Hammond change the UK's fiscal direction?

  • 22 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Philip Hammond Image copyright EPA

Well, that was a surprise.

Among the warm words on Sino-British relations (the UK still wants to be a major investment partner with China) the new chancellor of the exchequer dropped a small grenade.

Read full article Could Hammond change the UK's fiscal direction?

Brexit is not the only economic story in town

  • 19 July 2016
  • From the section Business
EU and UK flags on beach Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Beyond Brexit - looking to the horizon

Sometimes you need to look at the horizon to understand what is going on at your feet.

The Brexit debate can often appear a little parochial - a "looking at your feet" discussion about the UK economy, which seems to take little notice of the wider global economic context in which Britain sits.

Read full article Brexit is not the only economic story in town

Osborne comes out of the shadows

  • 18 July 2016
  • From the section Business
George Osborne Image copyright PA

George Osborne's Margaret Thatcher Lecture on Monday night is his most substantial attempt since he lost his job at laying out the political philosophy that guided his time as Chancellor.

And there are a number of big messages at its heart.

Read full article Osborne comes out of the shadows

Interest rates on hold - for now

  • 14 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Bank of England Image copyright AFP

So, the interest rate cut is off, for now.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided - significantly by a 8-1 majority rather than unanimously - that a little bit of patience is necessary to see how the economy performs over the next few weeks.

Read full article Interest rates on hold - for now

Mark Carney urged to cut interest rates to 0%

  • 14 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Bank of England Image copyright Getty Images

It was initially described as an emergency measure, seven long years ago when UK interest rates were cut to 0.5%, a record low.

That was before the brutal significance of the financial crisis of 2008 had really sunk in.

Read full article Mark Carney urged to cut interest rates to 0%

Philip Hammond: A new broom at the Treasury

  • 13 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond Image copyright EPA

Speaking to a senior figure in the banking world this morning, he had nothing but praise for Philip Hammond, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He told me when Mr Hammond was shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge did "a lot of the heavy lifting" when it came to working out the Conservative plan for tackling the UK's economic challenges.

Read full article Philip Hammond: A new broom at the Treasury

Theresa May’s economic medicine

  • 11 July 2016
  • From the section Business
Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

In her speech this morning - which has now taken on far more weight given that she is just about ready to measure the curtains for Number 10 - Theresa May laid out a set of policies that bring together two strands of thinking and two personalities who would not have been overly comfortable in each other's company - Ed Miliband and Margaret Thatcher.

The speech built on her article in The Times on Monday and is important for a number of reasons - not least its attempt to marry a general and widespread disillusion among the public that the economy "is not working for them" with a sense that the Conservative Party's driving philosophy is about more than free markets.

Read full article Theresa May’s economic medicine