Chancellor Philip Hammond described the economy as being “overshadowed” by Brexit, as official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that the UK’s economic growth stalled at the end of 2018.
The figures showed the economy growing by a lower-than-expected 0.2 per cent in the last quarter of 2018, which is down from 0.6 per cent in the three months to the end of September.
Meanwhile, the overall figures for the year showed that the economy grew by just 1.4 per cent, which is the lowest annual rate of growth since 2012. The figures also revealed a fall of 0.2 per cent in the dominant services sector and a 0.9 per cent decrease in business investment over the year.
The ONS blamed falls in factory output and car production for the slowdown, among other factors. It also forecasts slower growth in 2019 due to Brexit uncertainty and a weaker global economy.
Despite Mr Hammond calling the economy’s performance “solid” in comparison to what is happening on a global scale, he warned MPs that ongoing indecision over Brexit was holding back British businesses.
Remainers claim the figures show the damage that Brexit is doing to the economy and business sentiment, with Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable claiming that the UK is now “fairly close to recession”.
However, a Downing Street spokesperson said that international figures show that the UK still enjoys a “strong economy”, adding that the economy “continues to grow” and pointing out that growth of 1.4 per cent means that the UK has grown every year for the past nine years.