Any other business

Brexit is already hurting growth – and George Osborne won’t mind a bit

14 May 2016

9:00 AM

14 May 2016

9:00 AM

Has the shadow of Brexit already cost us a slice of GDP — and if so, is it a blip or an omen? The Office for National Statistics says UK growth was 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, down from 0.6 per cent in last year’s final quarter. And we can’t blame the neighbours, because the eurozone upped its game from 0.3 per cent to a positively breathless 0.6 per cent — with even France trotting in ahead of us at 0.5 per cent.

We still look stronger on the jobs front, mind you, with our unemployment rate, at 5.1 per cent, well down on a year ago and at half the rate for the eurozone. And our service sector continues to perform quite well. But manufacturing showed a decline and construction plunged, with housebuilding at a 38-month low and commercial property deals subdued. International retailers and office tenants were widely reported to be reducing their investment into the UK, or making contingency plans to do so.

A Deloitte survey of corporate sentiment blamed the downbeat mood squarely on Brexit fears: ‘A fog of uncertainty has descended,’ said Deloitte’s chief economist, Ian Stewart. ‘The dominant concern is the referendum… Corporates are pulling in their horns, with expectations for hiring and capital spending at three-year lows.’ Minutes of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee said similar things.

And April indications suggest the fog is thickening. The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ indices of optimism in the services, construction and manufacturing sectors registered their weakest pulse since 2013, ‘consistent with a near-stalling of economic growth’, according to Markit economist Chris Williamson. Like-for-like retail sales were down 0.9 per cent last month (the weather didn’t help). Consumer confidence indicators varied, but a survey by GfK found a 15-month low which it attributed in part to ‘mixed messages about a post-Brexit world’.

So there’s undeniably a pattern — and even though the US is also experiencing slower growth, and China’s import volumes are declining, we really can’t claim another episode of ‘global headwinds’ blowing our proud economy off course. Historians will probably tell us that we sacrificed a quarter’s growth in order to settle a European question that was at its heart an internal Tory party argument.


But if you’re George Osborne you may not think this is a bad thing. If he’s on track to miss another set of fiscal forecasts, he can blame the Leave campaign for frightening us into a downturn. If, as he hopes, the result is a vote to stay in, all those deferred spending decisions will suddenly look safe again and there will most likely be a second-half bounce for which the Chancellor can claim credit. As for the rest of us, no better informed than when the campaign began, we’ll wonder forever whether collectively we made the right decision and why we had a bloody referendum in the first place.

Queuing for Tata

After all the hoohah about the death of Port Talbot, bidders for the residue of Tata Steel — minus the Scunthorpe works already sold to Greybull Capital — are queuing around the block. No fewer than seven have showed up, reportedly including Greybull as well as steel players from Germany, the US and India. There’s also a management buyout team. I’ve written before about the attractions of the remaining Tata operations that are not Port Talbot’s blast furnaces, but it may well be the government’s politically-driven offer to underpin a rescue that has really done the trick.

But no bidder will take on the £485 million deficit in a pension fund with almost ten times more members than Tata Steel’s current workforce; that will have to fall back on state support. The pensions crisis that kicked off with Gordon Brown’s tax raids and has deepened in the era of ultra-low interest rates is only apparent, as with BHS, when big companies stumble for other reasons. But it is enormous, has no obvious solution, and will haunt us for decades to come.

Mayoral business

I judge politicians as I find them, regardless of party. In several contacts with Sadiq Khan, I thought him a smart operator and found nothing to dislike. In my single brush with Zac Goldsmith — I commissioned him, long ago, to write a piece for a Conservative magazine — I encountered a languid arrogance that did not make me want to know him better.

So I suspect the better man won, but still think it’s right to scrutinise the new mayor’s past: not so much in relation to alleged contacts with Islamist zealots as to his claim to experience in ‘helping run a business’. I gather he did a paper round as a kid, but the phrase presumably refers to his partnership from 1997 to 2004 in the legal-aid-funded law firm of Christian Khan, formerly Christian Fisher, where he specialised in cases against the Metropolitan Police.

That hardly counts as hands-on entrepreneurship. But the mayoral role requires empathy with capitalism on many fronts. He must champion the City against attacks from Brussels and Frankfurt: for all its faults, the financial sector is the engine of London’s prosperity. He must big up the vision of London as Europe’s hottest hub for digital start-ups. He must persuade multinationals that London has no serious competitor as the most civilised place to site a gleaming European headquarters.

And if he wants to make an impact on the critical shortage of housing for essential workers, he must promote pragmatic deals that allow developers their profits while securing rising numbers of ‘affordable’ units.

None of that was part of Sadiq’s repertoire as a radical lawyer, suburban MP and shadow justice minister. Now he’ll be helping run the mega-conglomerate that is London itself — and in a job that has few real powers beyond cycle routes and bus design, the city’s economic performance is what he will ultimately be judged on. He had better find himself a business adviser: my CV’s in the post to City Hall.

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Show comments
  • Zanderz

    I’d happily sacrifice a quarter’s growth to free us from the EU quagmire.

    • Ahobz

      Yes, it’s a no-brainer really. As Lord Rose said, the day after Brexit will look like the day before.

  • farmerobin

    As I write, Brussels is being threatened by Turkey who are trying to blackmail the EU into giving visa free access to it citizens by threatening to flood the EU, by plane or bus, with refugees currently within their borders. Do we want any part of this disorganised club? no, let’s leave asap.

  • Little Ern

    A headline which says everything about why George Osborne does what he does. It’s time Britain’s Ted Cruz stopped using the chancellory to improve his own public relations and started making decisions for the benefit our all parts of our country, rather than treating any such moments as happy coincidence.

  • Ahobz

    Reading the first part of this, I was just thinking Osbourne is the worst Chancellor since Bruin and it is past time for almost anyone else to have a go. Then MVW reminded me that Bruin really was in a league of his own and for all his many faults Oikspawn simply cannot hold a candle to Brown.

  • Benji0804

    How is Briton growth going to be hurt with leaving the E.U? When they spend $250 week to be in it.

    What they need to do is spend that money on building up there military.

  • FrankS2

    Why blame Brexit? Until the referendum it is only a possibility – with Remain a more or less equal possibility. Could it be fear of staying in the EU that is hurting growth?

  • Allenedwardwood

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  • davidofkent

    Uncertainty always causes hiccups in the economy. That is not an argument against BREXIT, nor an argument against holding a referendum. It is an argument for truthful debate. The REMAIN camp’s argument is solely “keep hold of nurse for fear of something worse”. The LEAVE campaign has offered the positive ideas of regaining our sovereignty and deciding whom we wish to allow to come to this country. The EU and especially the Eurozone is doing badly and anyone can see it. As the economic migrants pour into Italy and Greece, the EU is powerless to stop them. Our economy reflects the uncertainty and the fact that we are tied to the sinking ship of the EU.

  • Marvin

    Nothing to do with the increase of the minimum wage that is causing thousands of small businesses to close or get rid of staff then, and has anyone kept an eye on the flood of more migration this has probably caused. Time to double check the Ni numbers this deceitful government is lying about and how many of these are claiming tax credits, child benefits and housing benefits on top.

  • SunnyD

    f u ck what Deloitte have to say – they’re a bunch of corrupt inbreds an’all!

  • mike_in_brum

    Just vote OUT and kick the foreign scum OUT!

    • Mary Ann

      It won’t happen, you can’t kick the foreigners out, anyway most of our foreigners don’t come from the EU.

  • FrancescaMacfarlane

    “And we can’t blame the neighbours, because the eurozone upped its game
    from 0.3 per cent to a positively breathless 0.6 per cent — with even
    France trotting in ahead of us at 0.5 per cent…..”

    Really Martin??

    10 May 2016 • 8:53pm AEP in the Telegraph

    The eurozone’s short-lived recovery is already losing steam as
    stimulus fades and deep problems resurface, raising fears of yet
    another false dawn and a potential deflation trap if there is
    any external shock over coming months.

    Industrial output fell in 1.3pc Germany and 0.3pc in France in
    March as manufacturing stalled, confounding expectations for robust
    expansion.

  • ohforheavensake

    The economy’s been getting worse for a while. Only some of that has to do with Brexit. Some of it has to do with global trends; and some of it has to do with George’s terrible economic policies.

    • Jonathan Tedd

      House bubble being one of the madder of Gidz’s policies.

  • Mary Ann

    The world is showing that it thinks Britain is crazy and the brexiters continue to bury their heads in the sand, meanwhile Boris has lost the plot, likening the EU to Hitler.

    • Pretty_Polly

      That is why every country in the world is rushing to have their laws made by their neighbours so that they can live according to how other people think they should..

      • Mary Ann

        The vast majority of our laws are made at Westminster. Why else did we have a general election last year, not very democratic though with FPTP, at least the European Parliament uses PR. Pity the British public voted for ukid with them voting against EU measures to protect the Steel Industry, on principle.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nigel-farage-accused-of-hypocrisy-over-vote-against-eu-law-that-could-have-helped-british-steel-a6964476.html

        • Pretty_Polly

          Of course with PR which you favour, UKIP would have over 100 MPs which would please you as a closet UKIP supporter.

          • Mary Ann

            Funnily enough when the Liberals were going on about PR I supported them, now ukid are after it, I can’t help thinking that perhaps FPTP isn’t so bad. Does that make me a hypocrite, well yes, I suppose it does. Why on earth do you think that I support ukid, I know, you are trying to wind me up. I shall explode, honestly.

          • KilowattTyler

            Like so many from Britain’s middle classes, your principles are ‘elastic’.
            PR is good when it favours ‘nice’ liberals like yourself. When PR favours nasty Ukippers it is a bad thing.
            Democracy is fine provided it produces the result you desire. Presumably if there was a contest between (i) effective democracy, which might produce a government with policies you disapprove of, and (ii) perpetual rule by a technocratic elite, with policies geared to the views of standard middle-class people, (ii) would be your choice.

          • Mary Ann

            Well it would certainly save us from having to listen to the lies of politicians, and policies designed to get parties elected again in five years time, probably without constant changes of government we would all be better off, but, it would get very stale, power corrupts, etc. etc. on the whole I think it is safer to stick with democracy, keep them in their place, public servants.

          • KilowattTyler

            A technocratic elite would not be free from ‘lies’ in fact they would be able to ensure that ‘inconvenient truths’ never saw the light of day.
            The Soviet Union was in effect an example of rule by a technocratic elite – an economic and humanitarian disaster.
            We in the UK have experienced a milder form of the same thing – ‘the man from Whitehall knows best’ – which gave us such delights as post-War Coventry (bombing came nowhere close to destroying the old city – there were still hundreds of Medieval buildings in the late 1950s, now all gone).

        • jeremy Morfey

          The Party List system of PR used for the European Parliament elections is not worth much. How else could we have elected seven Right Wing MEPs (3 UKIP, 2 Tories and 2 Blairite) in the West Midlands, and I cannot put a face to any of them?

          Besides, isn’t the agenda set by the European Commission (which are led by the corporate lobbyists through their special advisers as they are in Westminster), not the European Parliament, which has as little real authority as the House of Lords?

          As for Westminster, would you really trust a proud democratic nation to be safe in the hands of these idiots? I cannot blame them entirely for only idiots getting the safe Party List seats. Would you really want to work there in that lunatic asylum in the smoke? I certainly wouldn’t.

      • Callan

        Summed up very neatly. A propos to nothing you have said, I have this picture of Cameron and his mate Osborne being banged up in a police cell, arrested for fraud. Cameron brazens it out, admits to nothing. Osborne, on being deprived of the support of his partner in crime, when interviewed begins to cry and admits to everything. Cameron when confronted with his mate’s confession says ” Well, I tried to warn him but he just wouldn’t listen”.

    • davidofkent

      I suppose headlines are for people who can’t or won’t read.

  • Pretty_Polly

    Hello,

    My name is David Cameron of Brussels and Panama and my aim is to destroy Britain as you know and love it.

    That is why I have admitted over 750,000 migrants and asylum seekers in the last 12 months alone, why I support eastern extension of the EU and why I have done virtually nothing to stop illegals entering the country and remaining forever. I will of course repeat these policies this year and every year during my premiership.

    Up and down the country, I am told that my plans are working perfectly as people find they are becoming ‘Strangers Where They Live’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/9831912/I-feel-like-a-stranger-where-I-live.html and I am delighted my Defence Minister, Michael Fallon, has told me that our towns and cities are being enrichingly ‘swamped with immigrants’ http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/26/british-towns-swamped-immigrants-michael-fallon-eu

    As the ‘Heir to Blair’ and Blairmore, I am proud to be continuing the pro immigration policies adopted by my close friends in the Labour Party and to be able to develop such ideas to extinguish ‘Britishness’ wherever it may be found. That is why I have abolished many of the planning rules in order to build huge anonymous new towns and cities in what was the monocultural and unenriched English countryside http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/16/plans-for-thousands-of-new-homes-threaten-green-belt-areas/

    I will soon be holding the long awaited confirmation of my views and opinions that Britain should remain an EU member forever and I will personally ensure that the Remain campaign is full of lies, threats and propaganda to obtain the highly desirable Remain outcome, thereby wiping the floor with a blonde haired mop. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Johnson

    As you will understand from the foregoing, I am extremely excited about the forthcoming abolition of Britain and ‘Britishness’ by my friends in the European Union who have assured me that a new name has already been decided for these very small inconsequential islands..

    Consequently, to further the re-writing of British history and the destruction of British traditions, they have chosen ‘EU Sector North West’ which must now be written below your postcode or your mail will no longer be delivered.

    God Save The President of the EU Commission ! Rule Jean Claude Juncker !

    Yours sincerely

    David Cameron

    Governor General EU NW – Designate.

  • jeremy Morfey

    I think the Hitler analogy to be a false one, but the story of the Titanic is rather too close for comfort.

    On the one hand, we have the Unsinkable. We know it’s sailing in icy waters with icebergs around, but the ship is built to withstand them all. We know that, since the big bosses told us so. We can have complete confidence in the crew. They are living well, drinking best wine, eating fine meals and generally showing plenty of evidence of their success, so they must be doing things right. Even in steerage, rules are in place to regulate bunk size, minimum rations, separate quarters for the rats and so on. Things aren’t so bad there either.

    On board the lifeboats, things aren’t quite so cosy. They’ve not been put to sea for over 40 years. They’ve got woodworm, their rudder’s fallen off, and the engines are whatever the occupants can grab hold of to push it along. We don’t even know if there is capacity now, since it was last evaluated when there were a lot fewer people. It relies crucially on our capacity to improvise and survive, and it’s not going to be half as comfy as it is on the big ship, even in steerage.

    So, would you stay on board the Titanic, or jump in the lifeboat? And when? Do we wait until the black market price for a place on the lifeboat is our life savings, with no guarantees whatsoever that what is on offer will save us? What if, for all the partying up on the bridge and the rocks and icebergs, the ship actually makes it through this time?

    Or do we go for The Great Escape plan, look up shipbuilding on Google, construct our own seaworthy craft, and head off into the mist in as much comfort and safety as our own efforts can provide, and leave the fools on board to their fate?

    • Penny Henry

      I was surprised by the Hitler analogy as well. Then I found out that this accusation is commonly made in the rest of Europe. It seems other countries are as fed-up as we are. (Or some of us are – hopefully more than 50%)

  • Pretty_Polly

    The EU seeks power and therefore money entirely for their own sake..

    They are not interested in the good of others; they are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power and it’s consequences mean we will presently understand as their long term plan of domination unfolds.

    They are different from the oligarchies of the past in that they know what they are doing. All the others, even those who resembled them, were in comparison incompetents and fools. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.

    The EU is not like that. They know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

    The object of power is power and money for their own sake and the EU will continue to prove that objective forever.

  • MrBishi

    UK growth down and EU growth up?
    What next, a referendum in the EU to throw the UK out?

    • davidofkent

      That would be a good thing.

      • Mary Ann

        Why, we are quiet capable of doing that ourselves, of course if remain wins the EU could then overthrow the democratic wishes of the British, the brexiters would love that. Democracy as long as it goes your way.

        I’m looking forward to the Farage temper tantrum and shouts of cheating when we vote to remain. I wonder if Boris will join in.

        • jeremy Morfey

          We’ll see how genuine the Remain campaign is after we vote to stay in (Cameron would not have called that Referendum unless the result was a foregone conclusion).

          Nobody likes to be conned, as events in Scotland have proved.

          • Mary Ann

            The people of Scotland were not conned, I expect that Salmond is secretly relieved that he lost after the bottom dropped out of the oil market.

        • Joe Long

          When we get bullied into voting Remain by a plethora of grate and good talking head warning that the sky will fall unless we do what they say during the course of a propaganda campaign financed by Goldman Sachs, Citibank and JP Morgan more like

          http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/05/12/banking-elite-hand-1-5-million-referendum-remain-campaign/

          To be fair to Corbyn one can see why he’s giving this a fairly wide berth

          • Mary Ann

            I actually think that Corbyn’s measured approach makes far more sense. But I really do believe that leaving the EU will be bad for the economy. It’s OK for the rich, they have more money to weather the storm. Be interesting to know if the brexit leaders have money in other currencies.

          • Joe Long

            “I actually think that Corbyn’s measured approach makes far more sense”

            It’s only measured for political expediency, because his MPs are almost completely pro-EU. The lack of real enthusiasm he’s shown is quite remarkable, but he has been opposed for decades of course.

            I think it’s a fair rule to follow that if Goldman Sachs et al want you to do something, you should do the opposite, after all they and their familiars crashed the US/UK economy in spectacular style only 8 years ago – and their ministrations to Greece didn’t do the people of that poverty stricken land a lot of good in the longer term..

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you deny what he’s said, check.

            As you think it’s fair to work for a competing bank and to… right. As you blame one bank… as you note they were far too nice to Greece for you..

          • antoncheckout

            Ask the peoples of Greece, Spain and Portugal how far the EU benefits the poor.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            That bully, democracy… as you whine about your bank and others…

        • antoncheckout

          Why do you keep on repeating the word ‘we’? – you do not live here, and you have no vote in our referendum.

      • MrBishi

        Lol.

        • davidofkent

          Well, enjoy it while you can. If we stay in, the EU has a lot of jolly wheezes up its sleeves to screw more money out of the UK and dump more of its unemployed upon us.

          • MrBishi

            That has to be better than defaulting on our £1.7 trillion debt and ending up like Greece.
            Even your own economist, Prof Patrick Minford, concedes that Brexit will wipe out manufacturing in the UK, which is exactly what I said two years ago.

          • antoncheckout

            As I’ve said before, your insistent repetition of this untruth (and your constant inability to cite any direct quotation for it, except from remainian propaganda websites) does not make it any more true than the last time you vainly repeated it.
            What Prof. Minford said is that after Brexit our economic centre of gravity will naturally shift from heavy industry towards high-end tech and higher-value niche products.
            Heavy industry is quite obviously not a future that will benefit the people of Britain, in an increasingly mechanized world.

          • MrBishi

            More lies from the Brexit side.
            I have repeatedly linked the motor industry’s own report – prepared by KPMG – which makes it abundantly clear that if we leave the EU they will relocate.
            http://www.smmt.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/SMMT-KPMG-EU-Report.pdf
            That will lose us £60 billion of GDP so you explain how we will service our £1.7 trillion loan.
            Try, just for once to use the truth.

  • Pretty_Polly

    In the end, the EU will make European unorthodoxy and anti EU thought crime literally impossible, because they will withdraw the words required to express it.

    Every concept and human interaction which could possibly be required will be rigidly controlled with meaning precisely defined by EU rules and all non approved alternatives extinguished and soon forgotten. The process will still be continuing long after the British EU faux referendum is nothing more than ancient history.

    Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller.

    Even now, of course, according to some senior EU officials, there is no reason or excuse for having anti EU thoughts. It is merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control.

    But in the end there won’t be any need even for that because through double speak and newthink, the EU will effectively enter our minds to prevent it and control us all..

    • Mary Ann

      Your imagination is almost as bright as your plumage.

      • Pretty_Polly

        C’mon, surely you can see that the aim of EU newthink is to narrow the range of thought in the sole interests of EU orthodoxy.. ?

        Has it ever occurred to you that by the year 2100, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having at present? The whole climate of thought will be different.

        In fact thanks to the EU there will be no thought as we understand it now.

        EU orthodoxy means not thinking and not needing to think. Orthodoxy will merely be a form of unconsciousness and automatic pro EU inspired reflex superimposed into our brains…

        • Mary Ann

          Oh dear!

          • antoncheckout

            That reply is a good example of what PP is talking about.

    • davidofkent

      Withdrawing words has been happening for about 40 years. Our British education system is so poor that children have been leaving school with smaller and smaller vocabularies. Thus, everything is ‘amazing’ or ‘awesome’ and the uneducated look to the likes of McDonalds for their grammar. Thus we have “I’m loving it” (which is incorrect for reasons that the educated understand) and odd statements such as “my bad” taken from moronic American Television shows (apparently). Our so-called government is hastening the decline by insisting that if we leave the EU, potential minor downturns in economic performance will be ‘catastrophic’. I despair.

      • Pretty_Polly

        wot

        • davidofkent

          ¿Qué?

  • Jonathan Tedd

    The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

    If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.

    F Von Hayek

  • flaxensaxon

    You get uncertainty in the markets when there’s a general election.

  • Joe Long

    “Has the shadow of Brexit already cost us a slice of GDP — and if so, is it a blip or an omen?”

    Let’s get this clear then, the economy isn’t sagging because of its hopelessly unbalanced nature – notably weak in manufacturing, or its massive indebtedness(particularly in the household sector) or very poor levels of productivity or because of the massive trade deficit sea anchor drag; not all – it’s because of Brexit.

    Glad to get that one straight.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Your Brexit would make things worse, so…

  • enoch arden

    Let me repeat. There can be no economic reason for remaining in the EU because THE EU ISN’T AN ECONOMIC ORGANISATION. It is a purely political organisation with purely political goals. And these political goals are clearly inconsistent with the economic interests of the participant countries.

    As a simple example, look at the monstrous construction of the EZ. It is clear to everyone now that it is an economic disaster. And those who designed it knew it in advance. But they did it for purely political reason: unification and centralisation of power. Their goal is Euroempire, at whatever economic cost.

  • Pretty_Polly

    The Master Plan

    The European Commission has announced that, in order to streamline EU communications and meetings, English will now be officially phased out in favour of EU Germolish.

    The consequences for the English language are as follows..

    In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c” as in sivil servants. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k”, which should klear up some konfusion and allow one key less on keyboards.

    There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”, making words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.

    In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

    Also, al wil agre that the horible silent “e”, as in disgrasful, should be removed.

    By the fourth yer, the publik wil be reseptiv to steps such as kompletely replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

    During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou”, such as you, and similar changes vud of kurs be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl! Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and everivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer.

    ZE DREM VIL FINALI COM TRU !

    • Bartley Kulp

      That was pure genius what you wrote here. I nearly pissed myself laughing!

  • Dacorum

    The EU is not doing well in 2016.
    “Industrial production in the euro area’s three biggest economies disappointed in March, possibly signaling slackening demand in Europe.

    German production, adjusted for seasonal swings, fell 1.3 percent, its second consecutive decline and exceeding a 0.2 percent drop predicted by economist in a Bloomberg survey. In France, output unexpectedly fell 0.3 percent, and Italy saw production stagnate in March after a drop in February. Output dropped 2.4 percent in the Netherlands”.

    • antoncheckout

      Quite – and yet Martin picks gleefully on a 0.1% difference in one quarter. That kind of journalism has only one aim: propaganda.

  • Pretty_Polly

    Ambrose says Italy is bound to drop out of the Euro so we had better leave the EU before that happens..

  • KilowattTyler

    For an alternative point of view, see Liam Halligan’s article ‘Project Fear gets Carney on side – but is still wrong’ in today’s Sunday Telegraph:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/05/14/project-fear-gets-carney-on-side–but-is-still-wrong/

    -Halligan’s point is that world economic conditions are worsening anyway so no conclusive evidence of ‘Brexit’-specific damage can be distinguished from the ‘noise’ in the economic data.

  • KilowattTyler

    ‘Brexit’, whether we’re ‘In’ or ‘Out’ may well turn out to be an irrelevance. Thanks to the political instabilities generated by the EU – uncontrolled mass immigration and economic problems in southern Europe due to the Euro, the EU is likely to disintegrate anyway. The catalyst might not be ‘Brexit’ but it could well be ‘Frexit’ – Marine Le Pen’s support is holding up. Far-right parties elsewhere are on the rise including in Germany, and opposition to the EU figures highly in the policies of these parties.

    • Mary Ann

      Sounds frightening, we can do without far right parties.

      • KilowattTyler

        Yes, we would be better off without the likes of Le Pen’s party.
        Although far-Right parties have always been around in Europe and elsewhere, their share of the vote has increased massively in just a few years. Outfits like Golden Dawn (Greece) and the Sweden Democrats have risen from the sort of percentage of the vote obtained by the Monster Raving Loony Party, to achieve third place or thereabouts.
        The nearest we have to France’s FN or the Sweden Democrats is the BNP, which is in the doldrums. UKIP is not in the same class as the FN – although it has its share of nutters and entreeists (as does the Tory party) it has no history of Holocaust denial or praise for the Third Reich.
        ‘Isolationism’ is always regarded as ipso facto, a bad thing. There are some things however which it might be good to be ‘isolated’ from – like plague or a Europe controlled by quasi-fascist governments.

        • antoncheckout

          The crypto-fascist government of Brussels being more dangerous than all of them. When one hears EU-politicians such Schulz, Brok, Daul and Verhofstadt speaking so arrogantly and contemptuously of the will of the people, and so viciously about Britain – it becomes clear that this ‘project’ has totalitarian and anti-popular aims.
          At least FN wants France to be French.

        • Mary Ann

          This desire for isolation probably stems from the recession, everyone wants to pull up the drawbridge, however we live on a crowded planet with the rest of the human race, and we should be looking after each other.

      • Bertie

        We can do without Far Left ones as well. Or Left wing ones- the EU is essentially a socialist welfare transfer from rich West to poor East, the sole Western European beneficiary being Germany, making the most of a ludicrously undervalued, for it, currency! The Deutschemark would be a lot stronger than the Euro, so German exporters romping home.Who’s losing out – Spain, Greece, Italy where unemployment is eye wateringly high.

        Apparently its progress.

        Pull the other one.

    • Bertie

      More likely to be Greece financials concerns, swiftly following by Italian Bank debt ones(plus Sovereign)
      Expect the timber fairly soon – the rot will start immediately after the June 23rd referndum,
      Have you noticed the news blackout in Uk viz any migrancy crisis(its surely increasing as summer doth approacheth!), the riots in various European capitals, police vehicles torched etc etc

  • antoncheckout

    “a European question that was at its heart an internal Tory party argument”
    But Martin, you being an educated chap who, I hope, reads a few languages and pays attention to the European press and to the ‘progress’ of the eurozone (which is the same identical project as the EU except to those fooled by all the Junckerist pretending), you will know that the question of the EU is far from being a Tory invention.
    Democratic accountability, and how we are constitutionally governed is at the heart of the argument. I thought the folk of Yorkshire were traditionally quite keen on addressing that question – you may be an exception.
    Your irresponsibly dismissive tone is that of the younger metropolitan elite for whom history begins in 1997. I had expected a rather more thoughtful article from you.
    There is a global downturn – that is why our exporters are doing badly. And Osborne has staked his economic policies on an unsustainable housing boom, and equally unsustainable public borrowing. He deserves to fail.
    And btw the eurozone’s GDP growth ‘with even France trotting in ahead of us at 0.5 per cent’ comes from a lower longer term multi-year base. It is driven by German mercantilism, aided by a euro that is nice and low for them, but which causes economic misery and high unemployment in the southern Euro countries. I’d expect a seasoned financial commentator such as yourself to note and comment upon these things, and not complacently leave it to those of us who do actually read and note what is going on in the rest of Europe.

  • Marathon-Youth

    BREXIT:
    IMMIGRATION= Britain has control of her borders.

    CRIME= The “European Arrest Warrant” allows British citizens to be sent abroad and charged for crimes in foreign courts, often for minor offenses. Exit will stop this.

    TRADE=Britain’s links with the EU are holding back its focus on emerging markets – there is no major trade deal with China or India, for example. Leaving would allow the UK to diversify its international links.

    LAW=Too many of Britain’s laws are made overseas by dictates passed down from Brussels and rulings upheld by the European Court of Justice. UK courts must become sovereign again.

    JOBS=The danger to jobs has been over-exaggerated. By incentivising investment through low corporation tax and other perks Britain can flourish like the Scandinavian countries outside the EU.

    CLOUT=Britain does not need the EU to prosper internationally. By re-engaging with the Commonwealth the UK can have just as much clout as it does from inside the EU.

    FINANCE=Talk of capital flight is nonsense. London will remain a leading financial centre outside the EU and banks will still want to be headquartered in Britain due to low tax rates.

    SOVEREIGNTY=The British Parliament is no longer Sovereign.With the EU hell-bent on “ever closer union” and further economic integration likely after the euro crisis, it is best to call it quits before ties deepen.

    DEFENSE= Britain could soon be asked to contribute to a EU Army, with reports suggesting Angela Merkel may demand the Prime Minister’s approval in return for other concessions. That would erode the UK’s independent military force and should be opposed.

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