This month there was an astounding amount of good economic news.
Before the referendum, we were bombarded by Project Fear, full of unrelenting doom and gloomy predictions should the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union. These predictions are continuing to be proven false.
The depreciation in the pound was a much-needed correction to our overvalued currency and is proving to be a valuable boost for our food and farming industry and other exporters. It was a boon to the tourism industry over the summer which saw record spending. Figures this month show annual retail sales are now growing at 7.4 per cent – the fastest pace since 2002. Online sales alone have increased by 27 per cent since last year.
This high level of consumption helps to create jobs. This month the Office for National Statistics announced that the employment rate was 74.5 per cent, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971. UK unemployment has dropped to an 11-year low of 4.8 per cent - down by 906,000 since 2010.
In particular we were warned that our digital economy would be negatively affected by a vote to leave. Last week I met the Digital Minister to discuss the future of broadband and mobile phone signal in North Shropshire. He wants to define Brexit Britain as open, optimistic, gregarious and global. Apple, Facebook and Google have since confirmed that the UK remains a world-class hub for the digital industry.
In September, Apple and Google announced that they will establish new headquarters in London. Google’s investment is worth £1 billion in the UK economy. Facebook already employs more engineers in Britain than anywhere else bar America and have announced a 50 per cent increase in their workforce.
Nissan decided to build two next generation models at its plant in the North East, securing 7,000 jobs. Jaguar Land Rover will design, engineer and manufacture the new four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine in the UK, which is now in production at their £1 billion Engine Manufacturing Centre.
GlaxoSmithKline plans £275 million of new investments at three drug manufacturing sites in Britain, signalling its confidence in the country.
The UK remains the most popular destination in the EU for overseas firms and inward investment projects are up 11 per cent on the previous year. The three biggest sources—the US, China and India—are all the more likely to continue investing following Brexit. We will continue to broaden our reach with emerging markets across the world.
As we begin to negotiate our exit from the EU, we do so from a position of strength. Britain continues to hire, spend and grow. We are the same outward looking, globally-minded country that we were before the summer and before the referendum. We voted to “Leave” but we remain open for business and I remain optimistic for the months ahead.