Five questions answered on the Barclays' resignation

Chris Lucas steps down, six months earlier than planned.

Barclay’s finance director, Chris Lucas, confirmed today he is to step down from his role, six months earlier than planned. We answer five questions on his resignation.

Why is Lucas stepping down?

In February the 52-year-old Lucas announced plans to step down as Barclay’s finance director in February 2014. However, he is bowing out six months early due to ill health.

In a statement he said: “"My health was a key factor behind my decision to step down which we announced in February. Whilst I had hoped to be able to continue working until early next year it is now clear to me that with my health as it is this will no longer be possible.”

Lucas has been working at Barclays for the second time in his career, after being employed at the bank as a global relationship partner between 1999 and 2004.

What else did he say?

Lucas went on to say that he wants to do right by the bank and is happy he is leaving it financially robust.

"I want to do the right thing by Barclays, my family, and myself, and therefore I have reached the difficult decision to step down sooner. I feel confident that I leave Barclays financially robust and well placed to continue to serve its customers, clients, shareholders and other stakeholders," he said.

In what situation is Lucas leaving Barclays?

Currently, the bank is looking to raise £5.8bn from shareholders through a rights issue as part of a plan to plug a £13bn "gap" that it needs to meet new rules set by the Bank of England.

Who will replace Lucas as finance director?

The position has already gone to Tushar Morzaria, chief financial officer of JP Morgan Chase’s corporate and investment banking division. Morzaria, who is currently based in New York, wasn’t due to start his new role until January 2014. Now he will start on October 15.

Until then Peter Estlin, Barclays' Financial Controller, will be acting finance director.

What else has the bank said?

Commenting on Estlin’s new temporary role, the bank said: "Peter is deeply familiar with all aspects of the Group's finances, including the capital raising,"

Barclays Bank. Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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I'd only given a literary talk, but someone still told me to leave the country

“So if you don’t like it so much,” he says, “why don’t you leave?” And his tone suggests that there is a good train leaving from St Pancras in half an hour.

So here I am at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square. Eventually. After a misunderstanding that finds me first, forlorn and bemused, at Olympia, with the London Book Fair closing down for the evening, watching my fee grow wings and fly away into the night air. I am called up and told where I could more profitably go instead – that is to say, the venue I should be at. On reassurance that my expenses will be met, I hop into a cab as soon as I find one (which, on Kensington High Street at 7pm, takes far longer than you would think. I will not use Uber).

I am going there in order to be on a panel that is talking about Benjamin Fondane (1898-1944), the Romanian intellectual, poet, essayist, philosopher and all-round dude. I know nothing about the guy beyond what I learned from reviewing a selection of his writings last July but this makes me, apparently, one of this country’s leading experts on him. Such is the level of intellectual curiosity in this part of the world. Fondane was treated much better in Paris, where he moved after finding studying law in Bucharest too boring; treated very much worse in 1944, when he was sent to Auschwitz.

A little corner of me is panicking a bit before the gig starts: I know next to nothing about the man, especially compared to my co-panellists, and I might betray this to the audience of around 80 (I refer to their number, not their age), sitting in their little gilt chairs, in a nice gilt drawing room, which is par for the course for European cultural institutes in this neck of the woods.

Another part of me says: “Don’t be silly, you’ll be fine,” and it turns out I am. I even manage to throw in a few jokes. During the course of one of my answers I say that the UK is a cultural desert and that there was a reason Fondane stopped moving when he got to Paris. The idea of coming to London to breathe the pure air of artistic freedom and inspiration was, and remains, laughable. It gets a chuckle or two out of the (mostly Mittel-European) audience, who like a bit of British self-deprecation as much as we do.

Or do we? Downstairs, and clutching my first glass of the evening (a perfectly drinkable Romanian Merlot), I chat to various people who come up and say they like my reviews etc, etc. All very pleasant. And then a man comes up to me, about my age, maybe a year or three younger, smartly tweeded.

“I was very offended by what you said about this country being a cultural desert,” he says. He is not joking.

“Oh?” I say. “Well, it is.”

He has the look of someone about to come up with a devastating argument.

“What about Shakespeare?” he asks me. “What about Oscar Wilde?”

“They’re dead,” I say, leaving aside the fact that Wilde was Irish, and that anywhere was better than Ireland in the 19th century for gay playwrights.

“So’s Fondane,” he says.

I think at this point I might have raised my glasses and massaged the bridge of my nose with finger and thumb, a sign for those who know me of extreme exasperation, and a precursor to verbal violence.

“So if you don’t like it so much,” he says, “why don’t you leave?” And his tone suggests that there is a good train leaving from St Pancras in half an hour.

“Do not presume to tell me, sir, whether I should leave the country.”

He tells me he has a Polish wife, as if that has any bearing on the matter. He says something else, which for the life of me I can’t remember, but I do know that when I replied to it, I used only one word, and that the word was “bollocks”.

“Well, if you’re going to use bad language . . .”

“I’ve got more,” I say, and proceed to launch a volley of it at him. Things have escalated quickly, I know, but there is no jest in his tone and what I am detecting is, I realise, his strong awareness of the Z in my name, my nose, and my flawless olive complexion. One develops antennae for this kind of thing, after almost half a century. And there’s a lot more of it about these days.

In the end, I become pretty much incoherent. On stage I’d caught myself thinking: “Golly, talking is even easier than writing;” but now my fluency deserts me. But God, it’s fun getting into a fight like this.

I’ve left my tobacco at home but the Romanian government gives me a whole pack of Marlboro Gold, and more wine. Vata-n libertate ori moarte! As they say. You can work it out. 

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution