Government’s Brexit investment claims called into question

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Claims that the new international trade department has bought in £16bn of foreign direct investment since Britain voted to leave the EU have come under question as they appear to have included years-old projects.

Liam Fox’s department promoted the figure in late December as evidence that Britain “remains truly open for business”.

However, an analysis by the Financial Times of the case studies offered by the Government shows that many of the projects pre-date the Brexit vote.

Of those that were agreed after the vote, many had still been announced previously, for example a commitment from a Danish company to set up a £60m recycling and energy plant in Cheshire, which had been announced by the company in 2015 and was granted planning permission in February last year.

A scheme involving Wheelabrator Technologies and SSE to regenerate a West Yorkshire power station, first revealed in 2012, also made the international trade department’s list, as did a decision by US firm Calysta to open a new agritech facility in the north east that was made five months before the referendum.

An international trade department spokesman told the FT that it could not disclose how the £16bn figure was calculated but was justified in using cases from prior to the Brexit vote.

“They are just examples of why FDI is useful, they are not part of the £16bn,” said a spokesman. “I can’t provide you with those figures.”

Single market struggles

Also today, a group of City firms are calling for continued access to the European single market after Brexit, in contrast to many government ministers who are willing to accept the loss of single market access to restrictions on the free movement of labour in to Britain.

The International Regulatory Strategy Group industry body says leaving the European Union’s passporting system would hit London’s position as a financial hub, according to Sky News.

An IRSG report says any trade barriers between the UK and EU would “hinder markets in their role of channelling savings into investment and of creating jobs and growth”.

The IRSG is chaired by former Treasury minister Mark Hoban.