Keeping our capital working for the UK

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Three key conversations at Cannes- MIPIM 2018

With nearly half of our members attending MIPIM each year, it’s clearly an important diary date for the London First community.

Our mission to “make London the best city in the world in which to do business” emerged from some of the biggest names in property in London in the early ‘90s – they took responsibility for drumming up foreign direct investment… and then went on to lobby for the position of Mayor, got business behind Crossrail, and instigated change in classrooms across the capital through Teach First.

Now more than ever we need that kind of pragmatic business determination to overcome challenges, to keep London at the top – and that’s what, in between all the networking and deal making, our members are doing here.  The London stand has been awesome as ever, and our lunch on the Croisette was again oversubscribed, but this year we’ve added a few new twists to our MIPIM agenda:

A post-Brexit London

First, Brexit – with Article 50 due to be triggered in exactly a year, not surprisingly this has dominated discussion at MIPIM and we have been at the centre of the debates on what this means for business and for London.  We have been campaigning to keep London open to the talent and skills that keep our capital working for the UK, and we want to see a transition deal by the end of this month.

While I hear more about new commitments and developments in London than stories of companies quitting, I’ve picked up on understandable concern about the narrowing window for a deal.  But most interesting for me is that investors are now asking about the pool of talent and skills they can draw on before they make a decision.

A Mayoral vision

Second, the London Plan – having just submitted our weighty response to the even weightier draft London Plan, following rounds and rounds of member consultations, this was another key conversation.  I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve introduced our Deputy Mayors to audiences small and large, to set out the Mayor’s vision and listened patiently to challenges.

City-region collaboration

Finally, Growing Together – our work with other city regions across the UK is definitely the issue that has caught imaginations in Cannes this year.  I chaired the opening session with metro mayors on the UK government’s pavilion and John Dickie chaired what by all accounts was a lively dinner previewing our Growing Together report, due next month.  The zeitgeist is with us as we make the case to be better connected, to learn from each other and look to grow together through these challenging times.

Oh, and the weather – as you may have spotted in the Standard – always a subject of interest, and now after some clear skies it’s raining!

Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, London First

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