UK posts slowest growth in six years as Brexit looms

London: Britain’s economy grew at the slowest pace in six years in 2018 with near-flat output in the final quarter, data showed on Monday, as Brexit uncertainty and weaker global growth bites. The bleak official data comes as the British government seeks to win more time to secure EU concessions on Brexit that could pass parliament and avert a chaotic split from the bloc on March 29.
Businesses are on edge with Britain just weeks away from its scheduled departure from the European project after 46 years and still has no firm arrangements in place.
The UK parliament last month roundly rejected a Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May had sealed with the remaining 27 EU leaders.
With May’s deal on the rocks, a large piece of masonry fell from a British parliamentary building onto a parked vehicle over the weekend in an accident heavy with symbolism.
Monday’s figures followed data last week that showed Britain’s dominant service sector almost ground to a halt in January.
“The economy is clearly struggling in the first quarter of 2019 amid serious business and consumer caution resulting from heightened Brexit uncertainties while weaker global growth is also impacting” the figures, noted Howard Archer, chief economic advisor at the EY ITEM Club.
Last year gross domestic product growth stood at 1.4 per cent, down from 1.8 per cent in 2017, the Office for National Statistics said on Monday. Growth was meanwhile only 0.2 per cent in the last three months of 2018, the ONS said in a statement. — AFP