After British Prime Minister Theresa May revealed last week that post-Brexit the UK would be withdrawing from the single European market she has now unveiled an industrial strategy.
The government plans to be much more interventionist to increase productivity, reinvigorate production and stimulate investment in technology and research and development.
It plans to support certain parts of the economy and in return will demand closer collaboration within key industries.
Speaking at a specially convened cabinet meeting on an industrial estate in northwest England, May said: “This is all about driving our economy for the future. This is important anyway, but as we leave the European Union we want to ensure that we are that truly global Britain with an economy that is in the right shape for the future.”
Industry is in focus because Britain’s impending departure from the EU threatens to undermine the financial services sector, which has long been a mainstay of the economy.
May’s hard line approach to exiting the EU could mean the UK fails to get a comprehensive trading deal, although during a discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, finance minister Philip Hammond was clinging to that hope.
He said: “My strong preference and my prime minister’s strong preference, is that we maintain our competitiveness by remaining within the European economic mainstream, with access to the European markets and on a reciprocal basis, access for our European neighbours to our market, continuing to operate to European norms and European regulatory standards. That is our strong preference. But if we are driven out of that market, if we are denied access to our most important market, then we will for sure reinvent ourselves and create another way of being competitive.”
The industrial strategy plan is part of that reinvention effort.
It includes things like improving the teaching of technical skills and mathematics, rather than direct assistance to companies which could get in the way of a free trade agreement with the EU which has rules against state aid.
A major aim is to boost Britain’s productivity, which has long lagged behind European rivals Germany and France.
Having outlined its strategy, the government is now seeking the views from industry on those objectives.
BEIS (@beisgovuk) January 23, 2017