2012: UK's biggest ever investment drive starts today

Could generate £1bn of UK deals.

More than 4,000 business leaders and politicians are gathering in London for an Olympics investment conference that the government says could generate £1bn of UK deals.

Lancaster House in central London is to be repositioned as the British Business Embassy during the Games, and play host to a series of events to promote British business to global leaders. There will be 17 held in total including a special business summit for China.

UK Trade and Investment, the government’s department for boosting trade overseas, has identified potentially £4bn of “high value opportunities” for UK firms to work on overseas, plus up to £6bn from direct investment in UK projects from international companies.

UKTI says inward investment by overseas firms created 52,741 new jobs in the year to the end of March, an increase of 26 per cent increase from the previous year.

In total, the government hopes the Olympics and legacy projects will add £13bn to the UK economy over the next ten years.

Economists, however, are not all in agreement that the Games will prove a boost to UK business. Richard Jackman, professor of economics as LSE told economia, "It’s possible to measure financial elements of the Games – the costs, the immediate income and spin-off revenue from restaurants or hotel spend. It becomes less straightforward when measuring the impact afterwards – the change in the character of an area, the sites that London inherits as a result. To what extent their impact is new or a result of displacement is less clear.

"There may be a gross benefit in terms of new facilities, but this was probably not the most efficient way of achieving it."

Raymond Sauer, economics professor at Clemson University, agreed. He said, "Investment in the Olympics is first and foremost an investment in sport. That’s the spirit of the Games. To see it devolve into an excuse or a vehicle for economic development would be unfortunate.

"Claims that it’ll do much for the economy are overstated." 

The government is relying on the Games to give the UK economy a much-needed boost after official figures yesterday showed that the UK GDP shrank for the third consecutive quarter, by 0.7 per cent to the end of June.

This story first appeared in economia.

Olympic Stadium. Photograph, Getty Images

This is a news story from economia.

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Beware, hard Brexiteers - Ruth Davidson is coming for you

The Scottish Conservative leader is well-positioned to fight. 

Wanted: Charismatic leader with working-class roots and a populist touch who can take on the Brexiteers, including some in the government, and do so convincingly.

Enter Ruth Davidson. 

While many Tory MPs quietly share her opposition to a hard Brexit, those who dare to be loud tend to be backbenchers like Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan. 

By contrast, the Scottish Conservative leader already has huge credibility for rebuilding her party north of the border. Her appearances in the last days of the EU referendum campaign made her a star in the south as well. And she has no qualms about making a joke at Boris Johnson’s expense

Speaking at the Institute of Directors on Monday, Davidson said Brexiteers like Nigel Farage should stop “needling” European leaders.

“I say to the Ukip politicians, when they chuckle and bray about the result in June, grow up,” she declared. “Let us show a bit more respect for these European neighbours and allies.”

Davidson is particularly concerned that Brexiteers underestimate the deeply emotional and political response of other EU nations. 

The negotiations will be 27 to 1, she pointed out: “I would suggest that macho, beer swilling, posturing at the golf club bar isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

At a time when free trade is increasingly a dirty word, Davidson is also striking in her defence of the single market. As a child, she recalls, every plate of food on the table was there because her father, a self-made businessman, had "made stuff and sold it abroad". 

She attacked the Daily Mail for its front cover branding the judges who ruled against the government’s bid to trigger Article 50 “enemies of the people”. 

When the headline was published, Theresa May and Cabinet ministers stressed the freedom of the press. By contrast, Davidson, a former journalist, said that to undermine “the guardians of our democracy” in this way was “an utter disgrace”. 

Davidson might have chosen Ukip and the Daily Mail to skewer, but her attacks could apply to certain Brexiteers in her party as well. 

When The Staggers enquired whether this included the Italy-baiting Foreign Secretary Johnson, she launched a somewhat muted defence.

Saying she was “surprised by the way Boris has taken to the job”, she added: “To be honest, when you have got such a big thing happening and when you have a team in place that has been doing the preparatory work, it doesn’t make sense to reshuffle the benches."

Nevertheless, despite her outsider role, the team matters to Davidson. Part of her electoral success in Scotland is down the way she has capitalised on the anti-independence feeling after the Scottish referendum. If the UK heads for a hard Brexit, she too will have to fend off accusations that her party is the party of division. 

Indeed, for all her jibes at the Brexiteers, Davidson has a serious message. Since the EU referendum, she is “beginning to see embryos of where Scotland has gone post-referendum”. And, she warned: “I do not think we want that division.”

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.