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Replacing May as PM might help Cumbria's nuclear plans, says business leader

Rob Johnston warns of risk to business Credit: Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

Theresa May standing down as Prime Minister might hold the key to getting Government backing for a new nuclear power station in Cumbria.

That’s the verdict of Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber Commerce who says Government intervention to support Moorside is vital.

He hopes that if May stands down in the near future, as some pundits are suggesting, her successor will be more pro-nuclear.

We detect that Theresa May is less than enthusiastic about nuclear power. She hesitated over giving the go ahead for Hinkley Point and we were surprised that the Conservative manifesto made no mention whatsoever of nuclear new build. One of her closest advisers, Nick Timothy, is on record as being critical of Chinese investment in UK nuclear. Our position, set out in our Manifesto for Business, is that the incoming government must take a direct stake in the NuGen consortium to ensure Moorside goes ahead. Realistically, it’s unlikely that there will be an early decision – the new government will have other priorities – but it is vital for the UK’s energy security that the project goes ahead.

– Rob Johnston, Chamber of Commerce

The business leader is also urging Labour and the Conservatives to agree a common negotiating position on Brexit.

Reacting to the General Election result, which saw the Conservatives lose their majority but remain the largest party, he said: “It is difficult to see how a government with such a slender majority will be able to enter the Brexit negotiations with any credibility or authority.

“The answer is for the two main parties to agree a common position on Brexit, even if they can’t agree on anything else.

“Only then will Europe take us seriously.”

He added: “Certainly, business doesn’t want to see a hard Brexit with export tariffs and barriers to recruiting migrant labour.

“Theresa May has to recognise that and start listening to business.”

Mr Johnston is pleased that “a potentially damaging second Scottish independence referendum is now very unlikely”.

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