Ross Clark Ross Clark

Don’t listen to the ‘alternative facts’ being spewed out about Britain’s economy

I don’t know about Donald Trump’s press conferences, but there are certainly enough ‘alternative facts’ being spewed out by the Remain lobby. This morning the Office of National Statistics (ONS) produced its first estimate for economic growth in the last quarter of 2016. It came out at 0.6 per cent, a notch up from the 0.5 per cent which analysts had been expecting and putting annual growth at 2 per cent. We can no longer claim to be the fastest-growing economy in the G7 as annualised growth in a booming US has accelerated to 3.5 per cent. Moreover, the ONS’s figures are provisional. But we can certainly claim to be the fastest-growing major economy in Europe – and it is quite clear that the forecasts made by the Treasury and many others for economic doom in the event of a Brexit vote were not just wrong; they were catastrophically so.

Not that you would necessarily realise this if your only sources of news were the Guardian and the BBC. Both seem trapped in a recession entirely of their own imagination, in which genuine, good news on the economy is sketched-over while spurious forecasts of doom continue to reported on a daily basis. Click onto the Guardian website this morning and you will find a story on the ONS figures but you will also be greeted by such headlines as: ‘Sharp slowdown expected in 2017’ and ‘Brexit economy: weak pound stokes inflation and jobs market cools’. The first was based on forecasts by the IMF and the EY Item Club which predict economic growth in 2017 of 1.5 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively. Only reading between the lines do you realise that the EY Item Club has actually increased its forecast for growth in 2017 from 0.8

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