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UK may be entering full-blown recession: Watchdog

Reuters LONDON | Updated on July 18, 2019 Published on July 18, 2019

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Britain might be entering a full-blown recession and a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could more than double the country's budget deficit next year, the watchdog for public finances said on Thursday.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said the world's fifth-biggest economy appeared to have flat-lined or possibly contracted in the second quarter, some of which was probably “pay-back” after Brexit-related stock building in early 2019.

“But surveys were particularly weak in June, suggesting that the pace of growth is likely to remain weak. This raises the risk that the economy may be entering a full-blown recession,” it said in a report on the outlook for the public finances.

A ‘no-deal’ Brexit would hurt confidence and deter investment and lead to higher trade barriers with the European Union, pushing down the value of the pound and causing the economy to contract by 2 per cent by the end of 2020, the OBR said, referring to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund.

Also read: No-deal Brexit: What it might mean for UK economy

A ‘no-deal’ Brexit — something the two contenders seeking to be Britain's next prime minister say they are prepared to do if necessary — could add 30 billion pounds ($37.4 billion) a year to public borrowing by the 2020/21 financial year, the OBR said.

The OBR said the spending and tax cut promises made by Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, one of whom is due to become prime minister next week, would put a strain on the budget.

“The spending control framework seems to be under pressure, with major announcements being made outside fiscal events, and the Conservative leadership making pledges that would prove expensive if pursued,” it said.

Published on July 18, 2019
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