British PM, Theresa May Chairs Cabinet Committee on Economy

Prime Minister Theresa May is chairing the first meeting of a new cabinet committee focused on building an economy “that works for everyone”.

It will focus on developing a “strong” industrial strategy, encouraging innovation, boosting productivity and creating opportunities for the young.

Mrs May said “we need to have our whole economy firing” to take advantage of the “opportunities” Brexit presented.

The committee is made up of almost half of Mrs May’s cabinet.

These include Chancellor Philip Hammond, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green.

Those not attending include Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary David Davis, as well as the secretaries of state for the Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Home Office.

‘More opportunities’

The newly-created Economy and Industrial Strategy Committee will look at addressing long-term productivity growth, encouraging innovation and focusing on the industries and technologies that could give the UK a competitive advantage.

Speaking ahead of the meeting in Downing Street, Mrs May said she wanted her government to “build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few” – a pledge she made in her first speech as prime minister.

CGI of Hinkley Point proposed plansImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe government ordered a last-minute delay to finalising plans to build the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant project

She added: “That is why we need a proper industrial strategy that focuses on improving productivity, rewarding hardworking 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.”

Hinkley delay

The meeting comes after the government unexpectedly postponed plans to build the first new UK nuclear plant in 20 years so the situation could be reviewed.

Contracts were to be signed last Friday after French firm EDF, which is financing most of the £18bn Hinkley Point project in Somerset, approved the funding at a board meeting. China is expected to fund one third of the project.

But Business Secretary Greg Clark has said the government will “consider carefully” before backing it.

Reports suggest Mrs May has national security concerns about China’s role in the project, prompting China to say it will not tolerate “unwanted accusations” about its investments in the UK.

Former Foreign Secretary Lord Hague has defended Mrs May’s right to look afresh at the project.

“While greater trade and investment with China is clearly beneficial for both countries and is to be encouraged, Theresa May is quite right to take the time necessary to evaluate the Chinese role in our nuclear power,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

The full list of attendees at Tuesday’s committee meeting includes:

  • Prime Minister Theresa May
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
  • Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark
  • Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green
  • Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt
  • Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Andrea Leadsom
  • Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Karen Bradley
  • International Trade Secretary Liam Fox
  • Education Secretary Justine Greening
  • Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
  • Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid
  • Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

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