Philip Hammond is the new chancellor: what do we know about him so far?

Will Hammond keep cutting to meet targets, or are we about to see a major change?

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Philip Hammond has taken over from George Osborne as the new Chancellor. And while Osborne hastily packed his bags and departed via the back door, Hammond has been setting out his vision of where we go from here. So what do we know so far?

Hammond has been doing the media rounds today, cementing his reputation as a 'safe pair of hands', with the one over-riding aim of steadying the economy and reassuring the markets and the rest of the world while the country goes through this period of economic uncertainty.

He's not known as a particularly flamboyant politician, and isn't one for producing rabbits out of hats, so it's easy to see why he has been selected for the job at this point.

He's moving away from the knee-jerk reaction of an Emergency Budget in the wake of the Brexit vote, and has said he will keep an eye on the economy over the summer, and outline his plans in the Autumn Statement as usual. A skeptic would add that this gives him a while to actually work out what he's going to do too.

The Autumn Statement

So the next question is what we can expect to see in the Autumn Statement. By that stage, predictions indicate we are likely to have seen larger deficits, so Hammond will have to choose whether to follow Osborne's path of further cuts (or his threats of tax rises), whether to do nothing, or whether to perform a u-turn and spend in order to stimulate the economy.

The good news for those on low incomes and benefits is that more cuts are looking less likely. Despite the fact that Hammond was vital to helping Osborne set his original cost-cutting agenda, he has now suggested he might consider slowing the pace of cuts, with less of an urgency to cut the deficit at all costs.

He said: "Of course we've got to reduce the deficit further but looking at how and when and at what pace we do that, and how we measure our progress in doing that is something that we now need to consider in the light of the new circumstances that the economy is facing."

Whether he chooses to do nothing, or start spending, is likely to depend on what the economy looks like by then. If the impact of Brexit remains mild, he is unlikely to have to make any major changes, but in the face of more worrying figures, there is the possibility of a spending round.

There's also the possibility that he will look to restructure the tax arrangements for business, to attract business to the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote. This was Osborne's suggested approach, but Hammond has said that no decisions had been made on this issue so far.

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Brexit

Hammond is likely to play a role in Brexit negotiations, and here he has followed fellow Remain supporter Theresa May's line to the letter: that the idea will be to leave the EU single market, but negotiate access to it. We will have to wait and see how successful this aim turns out to be - particularly with so many in the EU calling for a hard line to be taken in order to avoid more countries considering the approach.

He has already spoken about how Brexit needs to protect the British economy, and steps need to be taken in order to ensure it does not cause serious harm to the financial services industry too. He said: "We need to ensure access to the EU single market for our financial services industry in London."

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