interventionist approach to drive post-Brexit industrial
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[January 23, 2017]
By William James
(Reuters) - Britain is to adopt an interventionist approach to balancing
its heavily services-based economy for the post-Brexit era, aiming to
reinvigorate industrial production and stimulate investment in
technology and R&D.
Unveiling her long-awaited 'Modern Industrial Strategy' on Monday, Prime
Minister Theresa May will demand closer collaboration within key
industries in exchange for government support on regulation, trade and
The focus on industry and the shift to a governmental hands-on approach
challenges the traditional Conservative laissez-faire ideology
championed by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
May will ask businesses to work together to tackle industry-specific
challenges, citing examples of successful collaboration that have helped
attract overseas investment from the likes of carmaker Nissan, and
enabled aerospace firms such as BAE Systems to develop a competitive
In return she will pledge to reciprocate with 'Sector Deals' that
address regulatory barriers, look at how trade and investment deals can
be used to increase exports, and support the creation of new
institutions to provide leadership, drive innovation or boost skills.
"The modern industrial strategy will back Britain for the long term:
creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow,
and backing them to invest in the long-term future of our country," May
said in an emailed statement prior to the announcement.
The outline of the strategy - expected to range across economic,
regional, education transport and digital policy - will be set out in a
'Green Paper' consultation document due to be published later on Monday,
seeking input from industry.
"Todayís Green Paper signals a more ambitious approach to securing
growth and preparing for the inevitable pressures that will accompany
Brexit,Ē said Paul Everitt CEO of the aerospace trade body ADS.
The government also listed 10 strategic pillars behind its strategy such
as skills development and improved procurement.
BACK IN FASHION
Since coming to office weeks after Britain's vote to leave the EU last
year, May has pushed the once-unfashionable concept of industrial
strategy to the top of her agenda, creating a new government department
to lead the project, and chairing a top-level cabinet committee on the
[to top of second column]
Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to hold a regional cabinet
meeting in Runcorn, Cheshire, as she launched her industrial
strategy for post-Brexit Britain with a promise the Government will
"step up" and take an active role in backing business, Britain,
January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool
comes as Britain's impending exit from the EU threatens to undermine the
financial services sector, with several banks planning to shift thousands of
jobs abroad because they fear they will lose access to the EU market.
May said last week that Britain would be withdrawing from the single market, and
seeking a free trade agreement with the EU instead - a path critics have
described as 'Hard Brexit'.
idea that the government can have any reasonable strategy for British industry
while recklessly withdrawing from the single market is laughable," said Don
Foster, business spokesman for the rival and pro-EU Liberal Democrat party.
"Itís like the manager tying their teamís bootlaces together while telling them
they have a plan to win the match."
Under the banner of building an economy that distributes wealth more evenly,
following decades of industrial decay in parts of Britain, the plan seeks to
protect the economy from the risk of leaving the EU and address a mood of
disenfranchisement that drove many voters to back Brexit.
The government said early work had been done on sector deals for a number of
industries: life sciences, ultra-low emission vehicles, nuclear and creative
industries. But it said it would work with any sector that could "organize
behind strong leadership to address shared challenges and opportunities."
May will present the full proposals, including plans to boost the teaching of
technical skills and mathematics, and a 556 million pound boost for
infrastructure projects, at a specially-convened cabinet meeting in Northwest
(Additional reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
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