In conversation with … Sebastian Payne

Sebastian Payne

Financial Times

Whitehall Correspondent

A privilege for GCSE and A Level economics and politics students to spend almost an hour in conversation with Sebastian Payne.  Having binge listened to Payne’s Politics podcast, students interrogated Seb with the questions below.  In the blink of an eye, our time was up!  Look forward to the next time.

  • NC – Do you think that the government will find negotiating a trade deal with the Biden administration more difficult than the Trump administration?  If so, does this not call into question the economic prudence of Brexit as a whole, given that the architects of Brexit promised fast trade deals to replace the single market?


  • ET – What is your opinion on the proposal to repeal the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act and the revival of prerogative powers relating to the dissolution of Parliament, and the calling of a new Parliament?


  • KW – You mentioned that John Edmunds had stated that Tier 1 and 2 weren’t slowing the pandemic much at all.  Do you think that the government were reluctant to place us in Tier 3 sooner because of the economic struggles we are faced with, or do you think it was genuinely because the virus wasn’t as much of a concern back then?


  • MO – Earlier the Prime Minister announced that there would be a one-off payment of £1000 to ‘wet pubs’ in England in December.  Firstly, do you think this is an adequate approach?  And secondly, if not, how would you propose to change it?


  • BC – You said that “After recent mutterings about policy splits between No. 10 and No. 11, [it is] a gentle evolution to show one happy Conservative family” with regards to Rishi Sunak’s incorporation of his name into the party logo.  Do you still believe this to be the case considering that there are many divisions within the party currently, such as the bullying accusations against Priti Patel and the resignation of Lee Cain?


  • BW – Do you think the government’s reduction to foreign aid spending will affect the UK on the global stage, or will it have a negligible affect?


  • FA – What do you think will be the long-term impact of cutting the UK’s foreign aid budget?


  • JH – Are there any differences in how you approached writing for students compared with how you write for the general public now?


  • FA – What effects, if any, do you think each of the different newspapers you’ve worked for have had on the political landscape in the UK?


  • EW – What was the main reason for the fall of the red wall?


  • AH – What do you think the government could do to improve the North-South divide?


  • MA – The recent departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain has come as a joy to most backbench MPs, many of whom dislike the way Johnson has handled Brexit and Covid restrictions. What do you think the direction of the Conservative Party will be in the future, considering two of the main advisors have left; and do you think they will have to change their image in order to secure another election victory?