THE Tory Government has set out four “grand challenges” that will impact on UK productivity in the years to come but Brexit is not one of them.

After the 255-page industrial strategy was published yesterday, former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine pointed out that leaving the EU would be a “principal cause” of years of stagnation.

The challenges identified are artificial intelligence, the shift to clean economic growth, the ageing population and the “future of mobility” such as self-driving cars.

Ministers announced an extra £725 million to train workers for industries facing a shortage of staff in the next few years. This is on top of £1bn already committed.

The Office for Budget Responsibility last week cut economic growth forecasts and warned again of the UK’s low productivity.

“Our modern industrial strategy will shape a stronger and fairer economy for decades to come,” Theresa May said.

“It will help create the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and support these businesses in seizing the big opportunities of our time – such as artificial intelligence and big data – whilst also making sure our young people have the skills to take on the high-paid, high-skilled jobs this creates.”

The grandest challenge of all for the government remains Brexit, and this strategy was an attempt to try and face that head-on.

But Heseltine said the best thing the UK could do to for growth and productivity would be to stay in the EU.

He said: “Our country is facing years of stagnation, and what is a principal cause of that? It’s that anyone who has got to take an investment decision today is saying, ‘Well how do I know what to invest in? What’s going to happen about Britain and its biggest market of Europe?’ and so they’re hesitating. Whether they’re British companies or overseas companies investing here, they’re hesitating. And as long as we have this Brexit shadow going over us, that will remain.

“And what do we get in the Budget? A £3bn bill in order to prepare for this Brexit disaster.”

The paper is a mixture of new ideas and existing proposals, and focuses on key sectors: artificial intelligence, automotive, construction and life sciences.

The TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said ministers had failed to make sure workers were given a say in the new strategy. “They are missing a trick if they don’t listen to the factory floor,” she said.

But Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said what was being proposed would be welcomed by business leaders.

He said: “The measures in today’s industrial strategy could be the beginning of a bold, new approach to the economy – but only if what has been announced today is followed through, not just in this parliament, but over many parliaments to come.

Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said: “This is a white paper made up of re-announced policies and old spending commitments, showing once again that this is a government short on details and new ideas.

“Nothing in the white paper will help give businesses the certainty or incentives they need to invest in the face of the government’s catastrophic handling of Brexit.”