News in Brief: Controversial EU comments, EDF FD quits, gender pay gap, oil price

News in Brief

No regret over EU comments, says former BCC chief

The former head of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), John Longworth, said he does not regret comments he made about Europe that led to his resignation.

"I knew it would be controversial, but I didn't know it would necessarily get me in hot water," he told the BBC.

Longworth was suspended after saying the UK's long-term prospects could be "brighter" outside the European Union.

He said the decision to step down was his and he made the move so he could speak out freely, reported the BBC.

Longworth dismissed claims there was political pressure on him to leave, or pressure on the BCC to force him out.

EDF finance director quits ahead of Hinkley Point decision 

EDF has confirmed that its finance director has quit ahead of an expected final investment decision on the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.

Thomas Piquemal stepped down because he feared the project could jeopardise EDF's financial position, according to reports.

EDF shares are trading 6.6% lower, reported the BBC.

Last month, Chris Bakken, the director of the project that could produce 7% of UK electricity by 2025, said he was leaving to pursue other opportunities.

Calls to address ‘£300,000 gender pay gap’

Women are likely to earn £300,000 less than men over their working lives, according to analysis that has sparked fresh calls for more shared parental leave to close the UK’s gender pay gap.

Before International Women’s Day tomorrow (8 March 2016), figures show a gap of £5,732, or 24%, in average full-time annual salaries between women and men – more than four decades after the Equal Pay Act of 1970 was introduced.

Over a career of 52 years, that gap translates into a lifetime earnings shortfall of £298,064 for female employees, according to the analysis by recruitment company Robert Half.

Oil hits £20 a barrel amid commodities comeback

The oil price has gone above £20 ($40) a barrel for the first time this year as commodities continue to rally.

Brent crude, used as an international benchmark, rose more than 5% to trade at £28.74 ($40.83) a barrel, reported the BBC.

Oil dropped below £19 ($28) in January 2016, but has since risen as part of a wider recovery in energy and metal prices.

The price of iron also shot up, rising 20% amid greater optimism about Chinese economic growth and demand for the metal in the country's refineries.