Ross Clark

The UK economy is now growing faster than the Eurozone. Isn’t this good news?

The UK economy is now growing faster than the Eurozone. Isn't this good news?
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Maybe I should really give it a few more hours, but I can’t help noticing the lack of headlines this morning along the lines “UK economy growing faster than Eurozone”. Goodness knows we had enough headlines drawing attention to the opposite, when that was the case. There was the Guardian’s “Eurozone Grows Twice as Fast as UK after GDP Rises by 0.6 percent” from 1 August last year, the Independent’s “UK economic growth dwarfed again by Eurozone in third quarter” from 31 October last year, and the BBC’s “Eurozone Growing Faster than UK” from 2 May this year.

But now that the economic boot is suddenly on the other foot – and none of these news outlets seem to want to draw attention to that fact. The ONS’s first estimate for growth in the second quarter, published this morning, puts it at 0.4 per cent. This up from 0.2 per cent in the second quarter and faster than the 0.3 per cent growth which the Eurozone grew in the second quarter – a piece of news which has had remarkably little coverage. Of Remain-supporting news outlets, only the FT acknowledges that the UK economy is now growing faster than the Eurozone economy – but then only in a line way down its story on UK economic growth.

No-one should be crowing about UK economic growth. A quarterly rise of 0.4 per cent does not exactly suggest an economy running on rocket fuel – although growth may well pick up in the second year, as has become the trend over the past four years. Yet it does negate the Remain lobby’s equally rash attempt to quote quarterly growth figures as evidence that Brexit is harming the UK economy, and that the EU is somehow motoring along happily while we have crashed into a lamp post the hard shoulder. It isn’t and we haven’t. Truth is that the UK, in common with all of Europe’s economies are continuing the pattern of moderate, stop-start growth we have seen since the economic crisis of 2008/09. Europe has become the global economy’s weak spot. Maybe Brexit will change that for Britain, maybe it won’t – it all depends on what decisions the UK government makes after we become decoupled from the EU.

Either way, for the next quarter at least, Remainers are going to have to find some other argument against Brexit than the claim that the Eurozone is growing faster than the UK. From this morning it is no longer true.