Much of the £16 billion ($19.3 billion) of foreign investment attracted to the UK since the Brexit vote was actually announced before the vote even took place, and simply signed off post-referendum.
A new analysis from the Financial Times’ Jim Pickard suggests that when International Trade Secretary Liam Fox announced on December 29 that his Department for International trade has attracted £15.8 billion of foreign investment to the UK since Brexit, Fox and his team “reheated” several older announcements.
The FT cites several examples of old announcements being brought back up by the DIT. Dong Energy, a Danish company that the department said it had attracted to the UK, actually committed to building a £60 million recycling plant in the north-western county of Cheshire in 2015, and had the investment signed off in February 2016.
“The DIT also cited a joint venture between Wheelabrator Technologies and SSE to regenerate the former Ferrybridge Power Station in West Yorkshire; that scheme was first announced in 2012,” Pickard adds.
Other announcements that were brought back to life and made to look brand new, the FT claims, include a £650 million renewable energy plant investment from MGT Power, a deal first revealed in 2009.
Understandably, critics have hit out at the new claims, with Labour MP Chris Leslie saying:
“The British people are not going to be fooled by Liam Fox’s list of meaningless anecdotes. He should be focusing on protecting our economy from a hard, destructive Brexit rather than reheating announcements about investments made before the referendum.”
When the announcements were made at the end of December, Fox told the Telegraph that the figure demonstrates a “clear vote of confidence in the UK.” Tory MP and Vote Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith told the paper: “This latest announcement is the turning point. You are now either in the camp that fundamentally believes that Britain can do anything, anytime and anywhere, or you are in the a doom and gloom camp that doesn’t believe in Britain.”
The claims come on the same day that a top Republican in the United States Senate said that Britain will be in the “front seat” to negotiate a new trade deal with the incoming administration of Donald Trump.
“They will take a front seat and I think it will be our priority to make sure that we deal with them on a trade agreement initially but in all respects in a way that demonstrates the long-term friendship that we’ve had for so long,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said after meeting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.