Johnson seeks upper hand over Macron with flurry of green deals

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Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron

Boris Johnson has sought to gain the upper hand over Emmanuel Macron as he combats French attempts to lure foreign investment with a slew of UK deals backed by overseas capital.

The Prime Minister will tomorrow lead the UK Global Investment Summit, attended by some of the world’s most influential business leaders.

He will say: “[The] new investment we have secured today will power our ­economic recovery, creating thousands of jobs and helping to level up across the country.”

The summit will include Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, participating in a panel discussing the role of the private sector in tackling climate change.

Delegates will later be taken on electric buses to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge for drinks and canapés tomorrow evening.

The charm offensive began tonight with two separate dinners.

The Prime Minister and Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, treated 20 of the world’s most powerful executives including Mr Gates, the Goldman Sachs chief, David Solomon, and the BT boss, Philip Jansen, to three Michelin star-cuisine at an intimate dinner in Downing Street.

Bill Gates - Michael Cohen /Getty Images North America
Bill Gates - Michael Cohen /Getty Images North America

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, hosted 320 summit attendees and ministers at a dinner in the City.

Mr Macron capitalised on the UK’s restrictive quarantine rules by inviting 120 foreign executives to his event in the Palace of Versailles in June.

His “Choose France” summit secured deals worth €3.5bn (£3bn) with JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon and his Goldman Sachs counterpart Mr Solomon.

Mr Johnson said that new deals worth almost £10bn would be secured during the summit, although some, such as Iberdrola’s £6bn investment through ScottishPower for an East Anglia offshore wind farm was originally announced in 2019.

A £1bn investment by waste recycling company Viridor was unveiled earlier this year in May.

Mr Johnson continued: “The world’s top investors have seen the massive potential in the UK for growth and innovation in the industries of the future.

“This is just the start. We will see new partnerships for green growth forged at today’s Global Investment Summit, as we look ahead to Cop26 and beyond.”

Ignacio Galán, the Iberdrola chairman, said: “Our £6bn investment in the East Anglia Hub would be a significant step to achieving enough offshore wind to power every UK home by 2030.”

A spokesman for the Department for International Trade said that this was the first time that the Iberdrola chairman had made a personal commitment to invest £6bn into the UK.

Mr Sunak, meanwhile, set out further details on plans to weed out “greenwashing” by forcing large companies to disclose if they were meeting the UK’s timetable to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Unveiling a “road map” for sustainable investing, the Chancellor said: “We want sustainability to be a key component of investment decisions, and our plans will arm investors with the right information to make more environmentally-led decisions.”

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