The men in suits gather for another sort of competition

London on full schmooze alert as foreign investors arrive and face the Big Pitch

So if you’re a rich, overseas investor, this is what modern Britain looks like.

Manicured hedges in tubs. Tannoy announcements in received pronunciation. A quaint courtyard where a silver Range Rover and a blue Jaguar XKR-S are being given a last-minute polish. The national anthem wafting in on the breeze.

Into the sumptuous Lancaster House they filed: the money men of Brazil, China, Azerbaijan and India. Where were their suitcases of cash?

This, after all, was the Government’s big pitch to the world’s tycoons as they wait for the Games to begin. The message was: don’t just spend a few days here cheering the medal winners, splash a few billion on a water company or new rail link as well.

Waiting on the tip of the red carpet was the Trade Minister Lord Green, who has so far survived a buffeting over HSBC’s alleged money laundering past. No mention of that as he glad-handed Japanese dignitaries.

Next came Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, looking suspiciously jolly the day after more gloomy GDP data. And then Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, clutching a gold folder. Maybe it contained a cheque from Brussels? Only Lord Jacob Rothschild, the wiliest of financiers, seemed to dodge the praetorian guard of twittering ladies that latched onto every delegate.

They were greeted inside by a 200-year old John Nash staircase clinging to the walls of the atrium, overlooking a couple of Thomas Heatherwick’s extruded aluminium benches that had been incongruously plonked down. This is Britain today: where the old meets the new.

David Cameron kicked off, making it clear that some people might think it grubby to mix money and diplomacy, but he wasn’t one of them. Tax breaks, an infrastructure plan, an educated work force: our attributes were reeled off in short order.

“It seems the single language is going a little better than the single currency,” he quipped, while pointing out that business is done in English too. Next came King to assure the audience he was “quietly but effectively” getting to grips with regulating Britain’s banks.

Alexandre Tombini, governor of Brazil’s central bank, was mindful of the competition that would emerge from Europe a couple of years out. Off the back of Brazil generating 1.2m new jobs in the last year – almost half of Britain’s unemployed ranks – it looks as though he could do with some.

At lunchtime, a booming Boris Johnson gave an address on the lawn, thanking the Mexicans for the kidneys and tripe they sent over to feed athletes who competed in 1948 at the London’s ration book Olympics and saying that in Britain, “such is our ingenuity” that we have managed to export Piers Morgan to America.

On a day that should have ended with closing remarks from Barclays’ Bob Diamond, only the London mayor could have elicited a round of applause for “the largest financial services sector in the world”. From somewhere, the Chariots of Fire theme tune burst into life.

Could it be a case of nice idea, shame about the execution? That seems to be the Government’s problem. Let’s sit back and watch whether the money rolls in.

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PPC Co-Ordinator – Permanent - West Sussex – £24-£30k

£24000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Are you a Marketin...

Cover Supervisors - WE NEED YOU!

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education have cover supe...

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

SEN British Sign Language Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: BSL teachers required to teach in a...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor