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It comes as a former Cabinet minister claimed last night that plans to protect Hinkley Point from national security threats by giving the government a special share in the project were prevented by George Osborne.

Sir Edward Davey, who served as energy secretary during the coalition government claimed that despite assuring MPs worried about Chinese involvement at Hinkley they would have 'a special share in the consortium', the plan was then 'rejected without explanation' by the former Chancellor.

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Mrs May had hinted to French President Francois Hollande last week that she could delay taking a final decision until September - but EDF was kept in the dark, despite the French government holding an 85 per cent stake in the firm.

Last Friday there was to have been a grand lunch for 150 in a marquee set up on the Somerset coast, the site of the planned Hinkley C nuclear power station: this was to celebrate the long-awaited go-ahead for a vast project managed by the French state-backed company EDF with funding from the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNC).

But with senior employees of the CGNC and EDF already en route to Somerset, salivating at the prospect of their Chinese-West Country fusion banquet — with such pre-announced dishes as ‘Cantonese-style pork crackling’ and ‘Hoi sin local lamb skewers’ — Prime Minister Theresa May called the whole thing off.

"New nuclear is an essential part of our plan for a secure, clean and affordable energy system that will power the economy throughout this century.

"Certainly, when we were in government, Theresa May was, I think, quite clear she was unhappy about the rather gung-ho approach to Chinese investment that we had, and that George Osborne in particular was promoting and, as I recall, raised objections to Hinkley at that time," Sir Vince told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Critics believe the Government has been stung by criticism of the amount of money French energy giant EDF will be paid for generating power from Hinkley - £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity generated.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The headline figures are very disturbing on the price, the price of the electricity that is going to be generated, the risk to the British taxpayer of the whole thing, and, of course, the fact that we are handing over large areas of our energy generation to the French and Chinese to control.I think we need to have some serious discussions, and will be having them.""My message today is one of continuity and confidence.The EDF board's decision is a huge achievement and one we should be proud of.Our journey is a long one and there is a further stage.Jim O'Neill, a former Goldman Sachs executive brought into government by ex-Chancellor George Osborne, has told friends he will leave the government in September unless the Prime Minister, Theresa May, convinces him to stay.

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