Philip Hammond: A new broom at the Treasury

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.

Cut the deficit and shrink public sector expenditure was the route alighted upon.

At the time a fiscal hawk of the George Osborne variety - and a big fan of the European Union single market to boot - Mr Hammond is going to have to find a new tone.

Looser approach

Theresa May has signalled a looser approach to borrowing to mitigate any effects of a post-Brexit economic downturn.

And membership of the single market versus a clampdown on free movement of people will be the defining battle of Britain's departure from the EU.

Mr Hammond will be a pivotal player.

As he will on whether Heathrow or Gatwick - or anywhere - gets the go-ahead for a new runway.

Or if the planned new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point continues to receive the government's support.

Autumn Statement

All eyes will be on his first big Parliamentary outing - the Autumn Statement later in the year.

By then he will have seen the first forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility on the state of the public finances post the referendum.

What will his approach be to tax and spending given many economists believe the next few months will be challenging?

And how will the former Foreign Secretary signal that he is not Mr Osborne Mark II?

Mrs May clearly wants some fresh thinking.

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