The canapés are being prepared, the champagne is on ice and the Queen is no doubt practising her lines: it’s almost showtime.
The Government hosts the first ever Global Investment Summit tomorrow, a gold-plated junket for the world’s biggest financiers. The guest list is a who’s who of money: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, Bill Gates, and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman among others. They will meet Cabinet ministers before going to Windsor Castle to see the Queen — a rare outing for Her Maj in service of the economy.
Boris Johnson is hoping the five-star treatment will convince international investors to park their money in the UK, backing green energy projects and his levelling-up agenda. If it succeeds, it will be a crucial validation of “Global Britain” — the much talked about, but little defined, post-Brexit plan.
Around a third of attendees are from the US, part of Johnson’s plan to align the UK more closely with North America. That plan recently hit the skids due to Joe Biden going cold on a trade deal but private capital could yet revive it.
The backdrop isn’t ideal: worker shortages, spiking energy prices and inflation. But the Government can rightly point to economic green shoots in areas like biotech and cyber security. Dame Sarah Gilbert, the driving force behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and Poppy Gustafsson, Darktrace’s CEO, will both be in attendance.
Foreign direct investment has fallen off a cliff since 2016. Meanwhile, France has lured investors under moderniser Emmanuel Macron. Britain needs to catch up. The UK has long relied on overseas cash and needs to show it can still attract it outside of the EU. London reaps the lion’s share and stands to gain most from a revival. The Summit is a step in the right direction.