Justin Bowden wants the new prime minister to stop faffing about. The urban dictionary defines faffing as time-wasting. It has overtones of useless activity, of excuses to put off doing something. The faffing Mr Bowden wants to stop is over Hinkley Point, which would provide thousands of jobs for members of the GMB trade union he heads.

In his world, that is sufficient reason to commit to a failing project. It would be more interesting work than digging holes and filling them in, but as a way to destroy national wealth, proceeding with this nuclear power station would set new records. Better to keep faffing about, or better still, to study the report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, which claims we can manage without it and save £1bn a year.

There is something wearily familiar here. British governments faff about for years and then decide to build the wrong projects. Hinkley is the most egregious example, but the list includes HS2, the Thames super-sewer, the Swansea Bay barrage and so-called smart electricity meters. In each case the costs are understated, the benefits exaggerated, and the alternatives ignored. It is not quite too late to stop the sewer, now the National Audit Office is investigating its “unusual” financial structure.

These vanity schemes will soak up talent and skilled labour which is in short supply for the new infrastructure Britain really needs. As has been pointed out here the housebuilding companies are happy with the housing shortage, and have no motive to end it. More direct state intervention will be needed if supply is really going to step up. Elsewhere, there are hundreds of road widening or rail improvement schemes which will comfortably pay for themselves, and the case for national high-speed internet is overwhelming.

While the conditions for financing long-term projects have never been more favourable, the government seems afraid to pay directly. Instead, it has acquiesced to expensive ways to disguise the cost, while pretending that the risk is not being borne by the taxpayer.

We now have a new administration which has abandoned the absurd folly of balancing the books at a time when money is almost free. It is an opportunity that may not recur. Our prime minister does not seem the type to be seduced by vanity projects, but Mr Bowden is right. It is time to stop faffing about with the likes of Hinkley Point and start the schemes we need.

Electric cars? No thanks

How big a bribe do you need to buy an electric car? The answer, it seems, is a good deal more than the current £4,500 (plus zero road tax and free parking). Yet only one new motor in a hundred sold in the UK is electric. The MPs on the environmental audit committee blame the lack of charging points and “range anxiety”, the worry that the car will conk out before you get home.They would rather not admit that petrol and diesel are far better suited to transport than clunky batteries.

Unfortunately, Britain is committed to an 80 per cent cut in CO2 emissions by 2050. At the time, this was a cost-free promise for the Blair administration, an irresistible combination of green votes and a “legally binding” commitment half a century away.

There is no realistic prospect of meeting this commitment. Fortunately, independence from the EU provides parliament with the opportunity to abandon this arbitrary timescale. One day batteries may catch up with internal combustion, but the current scheme, due to end in 2018, should be allowed to die quietly.

A corker from O’Leary

There are few greater enthusiasts for the European Union than Michael O’Leary. It allowed him to fly to airports less than a day’s drive from your destination, and to create a world-scale airline. Now Britain is preparing to depart, he’s so cross he’s threatening to chop back his UK expansion plans.

As you might expect, he also has a robust view on Apple’s little local difficulty with Margrethe Vestager , the EU’s competition commissioner. He suggests the Irish government tells the EU where to get off. At least, that’s the gist of what he said. Not so communautaire, after all.

This is my column from Saturday’s FT (with apologies for late publication)

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