The economic doom that Remainers warned of has not materialisedby Tim Loughton / February 10, 2017 / Leave a comment
At just two clauses, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was one of the shortest pieces of legislation I have ever voted on in parliament. That did not deter an (increasingly fractious) group of opposition MPs tabling vexatious amendments to try to undermine its progress. One in particular caught my eye. The Scottish National Party wanted to prevent Article 50 being triggered until the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, had published an economic impact assessment of the UK leaving.
The last time that happened was in May 2016, and the full weight of the government “machine,” the Civil Service, the Treasury and the Governor of the Bank of England was behind it. The then-Chancellor George Osborne prophesied catastrophe of Biblical proportions. Precisely, in bold and on the opening page of the official Treasury “analysis” document he foretold:
“A vote to leave would cause an immediate and profound economic shock creating instability and uncertainty… and the effect of this profound shock would be to push the UK into sharp recession and lead to a sharp rise in unemployment.’’
Nine months on, the heavens have not caved in, fire and pestilence have not rained on the capital and the UK economy is actually doing rather well—and is forecast to outstrip the G7 for some time to come. Virtually weekly, from the International Monetary Fund to the Bank of England, overdoses of humble pie are grudgingly consumed as previously overcautious growth forecasts are upgraded with gay abandon.
The effects of this are beginning to be seen in the real world too. Unemployment continues to fall: it is now at 4.8 per cent, its lowest level since September 2005, while employment is at a record high of 74.5 per cent, and the proportion of women in work at 69.1 per cent, the highest since records began. Wages rose at an annual rate of 2.7 per cent towards the end of last year, the strongest growth since August 2015. Retail sales in the final quarter of 2016 were up 5.9 per cent on the same period in 2015 and the services sector expanded sharply in December—at its greatest rate since July 2015.
In manufacturing the number of cars made in the UK reached a 17-year high…