In London for Hinkley signing ceremony, France’s Ayrault defends deal

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault shakes hands with Britain's Greg Clark in central London, after representatives from Britain, China, France and EDF signed an agreement to build and operate a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point

LONDON (Reuters) – French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, in London to take part in the formal signing ceremony for the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant project, said it was a good deal for Britain and France despite widespread reservations.

“It’s a good deal. I know it has raised questions, particularly in France, but it represents an opportunity for the future of an entire industry,” Ayrault told reporters just before heading to the ceremony.

New British Prime Theresa May unexpectedly put the Hinkley Point project on hold in July when it was about to be formally signed, citing the need to review the details. She finally approved it two weeks ago.

“Mrs May had taken office and a new prime minister, a new government was perfectly entitled to examine the contents of the agreement,” he said, adding he was pleased May had finally approved a deal which would benefit Britain, France and Franco-Chinese nuclear cooperation.

(Reporting by Helen Reid, writing by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Costas Pitas)