Boris Johnson avoids detail on how China will be removed from Sizewell C deal

Boris Johnson Sizewell C

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quizzed yesterday about China's involvement in British nuclear projects - Credit: PA/EDF

Boris Johnson avoided details when specifically asked about China's state-owned energy company's role in Sizewell C - and how they will be removed from the nuclear project amid concerns over national security.

EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) are joint developers of Sizewell C taking 80% and 20% shares respectively, though the Financial Times has previously reported that Whitehall is looking to push out CGN.

At Prime Minister's Questions, shadow business secretary Matthew Pennycook told Mr Johnson that “the Government’s Integrated Review concluded the Chinese state poses a systemic challenge to our national security” and asked him to explain "precisely how and when his Government intends to remove the CGN’s interest from the Sizewell C nuclear project?"

Mr Johnson responded: “We don't want to see undue influence by potentially adversarial countries in our critical national infrastructure and so that's why we have taken the decisions we have."

But he added: “What I don’t want to do is pitchfork away wantonly all Chinese investment in this country or minimise the importance in this country of having a trading relationship with China.”

The National Security and Investment Bill, currently going through parliament, is looking to give the government further powers to screen and potentially block sensitive foreign investments.

Mr Pennycook later responded on Twitter: "We need certainty on the future of China’s involvement in UK nuclear power and clarity about how and when the Government intends to remove China's state-controlled nuclear energy company from involvement in any future UK project."

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China is invested in a number of nuclear projects in the UK, including Sizewell C, Bradwell B and Hinkley Point C.

Earlier this week key figures involved in the Sizewell C nuclear power station project told a conference that work could start next year if it gets planning permission - and argued the benefits will outweigh the impact.

The government has previously announced plans to fund a new nuclear power plant before the 2024 election and Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of nuclear development at Sizewell C, believes "Sizewell is that project".

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