As we welcome in the New Year we can also welcome the most recent economic data, which further debunks Project Fear along with its doom and gloom predictions since the Brexit vote last June.
The Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge have released a report which criticises the predictions that came from the Treasury in the run-up to the referendum. Graham Gudgin, one of the authors of the report, wrote that they found what the Treasury had said was very flawed and very partisan.
Britain begins 2017 as the world’s strongest advanced economy. In 2016 we grew faster than each of the G7 countries including Germany, Japan and the United States. We ended the year with business activity hitting a 17-month high, just six months after the referendum result.
Survey data shows that UK manufacturing expanded at its fastest pace for two and a half years in December. Our services sector, the largest in our economy, also expanded as employers hired more people to keep up with new orders. This is largely due to a boost in construction and an increase in exports. Manufacturing and exports seem to be responding well to a fall in the pound as a weaker sterling boosts the competitiveness of our products and services abroad. Our manufacturing sector is responding to the fastest rates of expansion in output and new orders seen in 25 years. Most of our manufacturing sector is high-tech, including companies such as Dyson and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).
UK car production is continuing to rise, in November hitting a 17-year high. Last year JLR recorded a 77 per cent growth in sales for Jaguar and an 8 per cent rise for Land Rover, selling 583,313 vehicles globally. They are seeking to build a new site in the West Midlands, creating 10,000 new jobs to make electric cars and batteries. I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy suggesting Clive Barracks at Tern Hill as a potential location.
It is uncertainty that will damage our economy in the long-run. The Prime Minister was clear before the end of 2016 that a timetable has been set; we will trigger Article 50 by the end of March, pass a Great Repeal Bill in the summer and we will leave the European Union by March 2019.
Entering 2017 in a position of economic strength gives us an advantage in these negotiations. This will be in addition to the upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany where many of the voting public owe their jobs directly to the UK for sales of their exports. We are a prosperous nation with a promising future ahead of us.