First resignation under May as UK junior treasury minister Jim O’Neill quits

  • AFP, London
  • Updated: Sep 23, 2016 21:35 IST
Economist Jim O'Neill, a former Goldman Sachs chief economist closely associated with the policies of David Cameron stepped down as junior treasury minister in UK govt on Friday. (AFP file photo)

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government suffered its first resignation Friday when a former Goldman Sachs chief economist closely associated with the policies of her predecessor David Cameron quit.

Lord Jim O’Neill, who had worked on boosting Chinese investment in Britain and a flagship project to bolster the economy in northwest England, stepped down as a junior treasury minister.

He had reportedly threatened to quit in July after May announced a review of whether to go ahead with the Hinkley Point nuclear plant, a key Chinese investment in Britain’s economy.

The government gave the go-ahead for the controversial development last week with new conditions attached.

In his resignation letter , O’Neill said he joined the government of Cameron -- who left office in July after Britain voted to leave the EU -- “for the specific purpose of helping deliver the Northern Powerhouse, and to help boost our economic ties with key growing economies around the world, especially China and India”.

“I am pleased that, despite speculation to the contrary, both appear to be commanding your personal attention,” he added.

Cameron himself stepped down as a backbench lawmaker this month amid reports he was unhappy with May’s decision to allow the creation of academically selective state-funded schools, a policy he had always opposed.

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