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EDF seeks backing over nuclear power plant

Hinkey Point request.

EDF Energy has asked the HM Treasury to back the proposed multibillion-pound nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset arguing the the plant is among the UK’s top five infrastructure projects.

The company, which is planning to construct new nuclear reactors in the UK, has urged the coalition government to underwrite some of the plant’s financing in an effort to make it attractive to third-party financial investors.

The Financial Times, citing a familiar person, said that formal discussions between EDF and the government would start only once the two sides had agreed on a fixed price for the nuclear power generated at Hinkley.

The governmant said earlier that there will be no public subsidy for new nuclear reactors in the UK.

Centrica, owner of British Gas, recently said it will not exercise its option to take a 20 per cent stake in EDF’s reactor-building programme due to rising costs.

The country’s current energy bill seeks to secure the necessary investment in low-carbon power generation by guaranteeing nuclear and renewable developers a fixed strike price for their electricity.

On the other hand, nuclear industry analysts feel that guaranteed prices might not be enough and more support for projects involving billions of pounds in upfront costs should come from the government.

HM Treasury’s UK Guarantees scheme, which was lauched in July 2012, is intended to underwrite up to £40bn of infrastructure investments. Meanwhile, the government has said £110bn of investment in Britain’s energy infrastructure will be needed over the next ten years.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.