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May plans ‘proper industrial strategy’ as Chinese warn golden UK trade era at risk

May plans ‘proper industrial strategy’ as Chinese warn golden UK trade era at risk

🕔02.Aug 2016

Theresa May sought to put her own stamp on Britain’s growth plans today by chairing the first meeting of a high-powered cabinet committee dedicated to formulating “a proper industrial strategy” for all parts of the UK.

In a clear put-down to former Chancellor George Osborne Mrs May said there now needed to be “a plan to drive growth up and down the country – from rural areas to our great cities”.

Her stance raises questions about the importance to be attached to Mr Osborne’s favourite initiative the Northern Powerhouse, as well as the Midlands Engine which brings together councils and business-led local enterprise partnerships to drive growth across the east and west Midlands.

The committee on economy and industrial strategy is dominated by cabinet members who campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU.

The meeting threatened to be overshadowed by a political and diplomatic row over the Prime Minister’s decision to postpone approval of the Hinkley Point nuclear plant amid security concerns over the involvement of China, which is to fund a third of the project.

Mrs May is facing a mounting backlash both at home and abroad over her decision, as it emerged that Lord O’Neill, a Treasury minister, could quit the Government over her stance on China.

It’s feared the dispute could put at risk investment in dozens of UK infrastructure projects after a state-run Chinese news agency warned the country’s ‘golden era’ of trade with Britain could be at risk.

An article published by the Xinhua news agency highlighted sensitivities over the issue, with a stark warning about the repercussions to the UK of delaying Hinkley on “national security” grounds.

[It] not only draws queries from the international community about its [the UK’s] openness towards foreign investment, but also adds uncertainties to the ‘Golden Era’ of China-UK ties,” the commentary said.

The British new government is actually running the risk of dampening the hard-won mutual trust with China.

Xinhua said it could not understand the “suspicious approach that comes from nowhere to Chinese investment”.

Ahead of the meeting of the committee on economy and industrial strategy, Mrs May said increasing wages for the lowest paid would be among her top priorities.

We need a proper industrial strategy that focuses on improving productivity, rewarding hard-working people with higher wages and creating more opportunities for young people so that, whatever their background, they go as far as their talents will take them.

Mrs May is to distance herself from George Osborne’s economic legacy as she announces a “proper industrial strategy” that will see British workers getting a pay rise. Mrs May said:

As I said on my first day as Prime Minister, I will govern for the whole United Kingdom, and we will look to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

That is why we need a proper industrial strategy that focuses on improving productivity, rewarding hard-working people with higher wages and creating more opportunities for young people so that, whatever their background, they go as far as their talents will take them. We also need a plan to drive growth up and down the country – from rural areas to our great cities.

If we are to take advantages of the opportunities presented by Brexit, we need to have our whole economy firing. That’s why this Committee’s work is of the highest priority, and we will be getting down to work immediately.

The full membership of the committee is:

Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer – Philip Hammond
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – Greg Clark
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – Damian Green
Secretary of State for Health – Jeremy Hunt
Secretary of state for the Environment – Andrea Leadsom

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – Karen Bradley
Secretary of State for International Trade – Liam Fox
Secretary of State for Education – Justine Greening
Secretary of State for Defence – Michael Fallon
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Sajid Javid
Secretary of State for Transport – Chris Grayling

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