When President Macron hosted a summit at Versailles to tempt the great and the good of global business, it was hailed by some on these shores as a kind of strategic masterstroke.
Well, two can play at that game, as Rishi Sunak proved yesterday, swapping a historic palace on the outskirts of Paris for one within convenient reach of the A3. And, whilst it seems a national sport for some to snipe at these things, it’s hard to conclude that yesterday’s global investment summit was a success.
But more to the point, it happened: the creaking, occasionally conflicting gears of the British state coalescing around a no-holds-barred celebration of the country’s business climate. In yesterday’s event you can perhaps see a nugget of what Rishi Sunak’s premiership could be – if it lasts any more than a year, that is.
The fundamentals, however, don’t change. Low growth doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. And it’s all very well Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt dressing up tax hikes as tax cuts to woo voters on the doorstep, but it’s unlikely to fly with international investors and chief executives. A genuinely business friendly environment needs certainty, stability and an appropriate risk:reward ratio.
Sunak and Hunt are improving by the day as captains of the UK’s economic ship – any fair observer would grant that they, in theory at least, believe in markets and their value. Alas previous missteps like the windfall tax on oil and gas mean they’re still navigating choppier than necessary seas.