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PM Theresa May’s botched handling of Brexit was blamed today for a slump in Britain’s economy.
A decline in manufacturing and car sales has led to the economy continuing to lose momentum in the three months to November, data from the Office of National Statistics showed.
GDP fell to 0.3 per cent in that quarter — the lowest for six months — from growth of 0.4 per cent in the previous three months up to October.
In November alone, factory output fell 0.4 per cent, the fifth consecutive month of decline, and the manufacturing sector’s longest period of monthly declines in output since the financial crisis a decade ago.
The largest downward drag came from a fall in vehicle production of 4.3 per cent due to weaker demand from overseas, according to the ONS.
The manufacturing sector has been recently hit by factory shutdowns, such as at Jaguar Land Rover, as well as weaker consumer demand for cars and declining diesel sales.
PwC senior economist Mike Jakeman said in response to the data: “The clear loss of momentum in the British economy since the summer is as expected, given the ongoing lack of clarity on Brexit.
“For as long as this remains unclear, businesses will continue to defer major investment plans and households will reconsider making big-ticket purchases.”
General union GMB said that the government’s “botched handling” of Brexit has damaged investment and that working people should not be made to pay the price for political failures.
Manufacturing growth falling five months in a row shows that the country is on the wrong economic path, GMB research and policy officer Neil Foster said.
“Today’s figures chime with what we are hearing in many workplaces — that investment is falling, opportunities are being missed and that workers are uncertain as a result,” he added.
“To make things worse, companies are now having to spend huge amounts of time and money stockpiling because the Prime Minister has recklessly not ruled out crashing out of the EU without a deal.”
Labour also blamed the fall in growth on the government’s handling of EU withdrawal.
Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd said: “It’s clear from these figures that the government’s botched handling of Brexit is continuing to damage our economy.
“The ONS has reported that manufacturing had suffered their longest period of monthly falls in output since the financial crisis.
“Slowing growth and more disappointing manufacturing figures are another sign of the failures of the Tories on Brexit negotiations and economic policy in general.”
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