Triple boost for Brexit Britain: Dyson to build tech hub in the UK, Chinese bid £1bn for City skyscraper and 1,400 new Expedia jobs

Billions of pounds of investment deals were struck in the UK yesterday as three major firms gave the nation a boost.

Inventor Sir James Dyson last night unveiled plans for a pioneering research centre that will transform a former RAF base in Wiltshire into a global technology hub.

The move will create thousands of highly-skilled jobs at electronics giant Dyson – and increase its footprint in the UK ten-fold. 

In a second major deal, developer British Land said it and co-owner Oxford Properties were in ‘advanced discussions’ regarding the sale of the 737ft London skyscraper which has been dubbed the Cheesegrater because of its shape.

Chinese property magnate Cheung Chung Kiu is close to buying the Leadenhall Building – to give it its formal name – in the City of London for £1billion.

It would be the biggest property deal in the UK since 2014 when Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund bought the HSBC Tower in Canary Wharf for £1.2billion. 

Its sale is being closely watched as an indicator of the property market’s health after Britain’s vote last year to leave the European Union, which caused an immediate drop in real estate prices.

In a further vote of confidence in Britain, Expedia, one of the world’s biggest online travel companies, said it was doubling its office space in London. 

The move paves the way for it to double its London headcount to 2,800. Nissan, Google, Facebook, GlaxoSmithKline and McDonald’s have also ramped up investment since the referendum. 

Brexit campaigners said the deluge of companies backing Britain showed the country remains ‘a great place’ to do business. 

Welcoming Dyson’s plans, Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘This investment is a vote of confidence in our modern industrial strategy and our determination to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in high-tech engineering.’ 

Dyson, which is famed for its vacuum cleaners, has bought the former RAF base at Hullavington from the Ministry of Defence. 

The firm will turn it into a second technology centre close to its base in Malmesbury. Dyson, 69, who backed Brexit, said: ‘It will enable us to continue creating world-class products and jobs right here in the Cotswolds.’

Dyson did not disclose how much he will invest at Hullavington, but he has already announced plans to open a university, the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology.

‘The UK’s skills shortage is holding Dyson back as we look to increase the amount of technology we develop and export from the UK,’ said the entrepreneur.

John Longworth, co-chairman of Brexit campaign group Leave Means Leave, said: ‘Investment in the UK is a vote of confidence in Brexit Britain.’

February 28th, 2017: This is Money