An article in the Financial Times on 1 January 2019 has highlighted the Brexit opinions of some of the leading economists in the UK. All 80 top economists polled by the newspaper felt that 2019 UK business investment and consumer spending will be affected by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. These experts feel this will still be the case if the UK manages to implement a successful close to the Brexit deal.
What The Financial Times Poll Revealed
The annual survey into the economic outlook for the UK in the year ahead concluded that the very best growth level likely to be achieved will be at 1.5%, which is the current rate. A successful EU Brexit deal is unlikely to impact in a positive manner on this forecast economic growth.
A total of 81 economists were contacted for this survey, which took place between 17 and 21 December 2018. Most respondents were unwilling to offer any firm growth predictions for 2019, even though the survey was successful in predicting a 1.5% slow down in economic growth for the year 2018.
Some economists stressed that 2019 forecasting would be impossible due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, which they referred to as “comprehensive” and “chronic“, going on to add that this had become “a way of life” that was accepted in the UK.
A Cambridge University Professor of Public Policy, Diane Coyle, stated: “Given the political shambles … the outlook is anything from lacklustre to catastrophic, but who knows?”
In addition, Nina Skero, the head of macroeconomics at the Centre for Economics and Business Research commented: “…in 2019, Brexit will be either bad or awful for the UK economy” and this would be the case irrespective of any longer-term impacts.
For the small minority of economists who were prepared to put a number on anticipated growth for the year, most felt that it would not exceed 1.5% at any point. This would also be affected by the continued slowing of global economic expansion.
The UK exit from the EU is scheduled for 29 March 2019. A minority of survey respondents felt the UK economy would either shrink or stall for the first quarter which would be likely to cause businesses to freeze any investment and consumers to delay their spending plans.