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Outlook Raise a glass to Greene King. The pub and restaurant group reported a sparkling 5 per cent increase in sales over Christmas. But fill it with Cava rather than Champagne.

Rising trade gap suggests pound is starting to hit exports

Britain's trade has taken a turn for the worst, with the gap between imports and exports of goods climbing past pounds 1bn. Diane Coyle, Economics Editor, asks whether warnings of the strong pound damaging exports are coming true.

Brown wants explanation of plans for Thames chief's pay

Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, stepped into a new fat cats pay row over plans to raise the salary of Sir Robert Clarke, Thames Water chairman, at a time when his responsibilities were declining. Mr Brown said he was seeking "clarification and an explanation" of proposals to increase Sir Robert's pounds 247,000 pay packet.

Letter: Leftwinger strikes

Sir: In all my time as Press Secretary to Gordon Brown, I have never experienced such a disgraceful allegation as that made in your profile of me (Media+, 6 October). Of all the insults I have ever had thrown at me, and there have been many, to call me an Arsenal supporter is the worst. I have in fact been a Spurs supporter all my life.

Historic figurehead who could now be eclipsed

The inauguration of London's new mayor could mark the beginning of the end for Britain's most bizarre electoral system.

Senior pay awards to go ahead

Judges, senior military officers and higher civil servants have survived Labour's threat to stop the second phase of their pay rise being implemented later this year.

Football: Forest offer chair to Kenneth Clarke

Kenneth Clarke, who like Nottingham Forest recently suffered relegation, has been offered the job as chairman of Forest's holding company.

New inflation target set

The new inflation target announced by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his first Mansion House speech last night, was seen as reducing the pressure for further interest rate increases this summer, writes Diane Coyle, economics editor.

Clarke takes leadership cue from Blair

Kenneth Clarke last night made a flattering bid to imitate Tony Blair's success in modernising new Labour - with a call for "a new Conservatism."

Letter: New Butskellism

Sir: In the Fifties, the Keynesian-welfarist consensus between the Chancellor of the Exchequer, R A Butler, and the shadow Chancellor, Hugh Gaitskell, was called Butskellism. Now both the Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, and shadow Chancellor, Gordon Brown are promising no tax rises and better public services. Should we call this Clownism?

It's a question of loyalty - above all, loyalty to oneself

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

Blair attacks Chancellor over pounds 14bn `black hole'

Tony Blair yesterday called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kenneth Clarke, to clarify whether or not there was a "black hole" in the Government's finances.

Ministers stand to gain pounds 4,000 bonus if they lose

If the Tories lose the election, ministers stand to gain a bonus of pounds 4,000 in their severance pay under a technicality which means they would continue in office for a few hours after polling day.

Labour fooled by the Tories, Callaghan says

The Labour leadership has become a victim of Tory brainwashing, the former prime minister James Callaghan complains in a New Statesman interview today.

HM Treasury warning: Tories harm your wealth

The average family's tax burden is to fall marginally from 35.3 per cent to 35.1 per cent of gross earnings next year - but it remains two percentage points higher than it was at the last election. It is also three points higher than in 1978-79, when Labour was last in office.

Obituary: Lord Bancroft

Ian Bancroft cared passionately about the integrity and public standing of the British civil service, of which he was head for a truncated period, between 1978 and 1981. Bancroft and Margaret Thatcher were chalk and cheese. He went to the stake on the principle of the duty of civil servants to give unpalatable advice to ministers.
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