Pay rise for British workers as May launches new economic drive

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.

Published: 02nd August 2016 08:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd August 2016 08:15 AM   |  A+A-

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British Prime Minister Theresa May | AP

Theresa May will today distance herself from George Osborne's economic legacy as she announces a "proper industrial strategy" that will see British workers getting a pay rise.

The Prime Minister will convene the first meeting of her new Cabinet committee on economy and industrial strategy, which will be attended by 10 secretaries of state. However, her decision to postpone the approval of the Hinkley Point nuclear plant owing to concerns about China's involvement has prompted warnings from Beijing that the "golden era" of relations with Britain is now in jeopardy. China warned the Government to approve the pounds 18 billion power station "as soon as possible" as its official news agency warned that the country would not tolerate "unwanted accusations" about its investments in the UK.

Xi Jinping, China's President, last year called Hinkley as the "flagship project" of Sino-British cooperation after Mr Osborne, the former chancellor, hailed the start of a golden decade in relations between the two countries. Mrs May was facing a mounting backlash both at home and abroad over the issue, as it emerged that Lord O'Neill of Gatley, the Treasury minister, could resign over her stance on China.

In an effort to move on from the Hinkley row, Mrs May will pledge to "build an economy that works for everyone".

Speaking ahead of the first meeting of the new Cabinet committee, she said that her focus will be on "improving productivity" and creating a "plan to drive growth up and down the country - from rural areas to our great cities".

The commitment is a rejection of Mr Osborne's economic strategy, which was criticised for failing to focus on productivity. Mr Osborne also received criticism for his "Northern Powerhouse", which focused on cities in the north of England.

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."

She added: "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."

Mrs May's official spokesman yesterday sought to ease diplomatic tensions over Hinkley, insisting that Britain would "continue to seek a strong relationship with China".

However, she also declined three times to say if Mrs May was specifically concerned about the national security implications of the Chinese investment in Hinkley Point.

A commentary published by the Xinhua news agency, which is often seen as a reflection of official thinking in China, highlighted the sensitivities over the issue, with a stark warning about the repercussions 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."


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