British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday she wanted her security advisers to review a delayed nuclear power investment from China – a source of diplomatic tension – as she arrived in the country to attend a G20 summit.
May upset Chinese officials in July by delaying a US$24 billion project that would see French firm EDF build Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in decades with the help of US$8 billion from China.
Speaking during her first visit to China, May was asked whether she would ask the National Security Council, a team of ministers supported by intelligence officers, to look at the potential security implications of the Hinkley Point deal.
“I will be doing exactly as you’ve said,” May replied, saying it would be part of her decision-making process. The comment marked the first official acknowledgement that national security was a factor in her decision.
The initial delay caught investors by surprise and has cast doubt over whether May, who took office in July following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, will continue to court China as a major source of infrastructure investment. A final decision is expected later this month.
In her meeting with US President Barack Obama, May said she intends to seize new trading opportunities for a Britain that has voted to leave the European Union, reiterating that “Brexit does indeed mean Brexit” and there will be “no attempt to get out of this”.
The British people narrowly voted to leave the EU in June, but the government has yet to formally invoke Article 50, the EU treaty clause that would set up its departure. Invoking the clause would start a two-year countdown that would be unlikely to benefit Britain as it has not yet worked out what it wants its future relationship with the European Union to look like. There is also opposition to a British exit among a significant part of the population and questions over whether Parliament will be given a formal vote on triggering Article 50.
“There will be no second referendum, no attempt to turn the clock back, no attempt to try to get out of this,” May told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 economic summit. “The UK will be leaving the European Union.”
Reuters and Associated Press