POLITICS
09/08/2019 10:46 BST | Updated 09/08/2019 10:48 BST

Brexit Uncertainty Blamed As UK Economy Shrinks For First Time Since 2012

Chancellor repeats pledge to stick to October 31 exit date, as Lib Dems say latest figures prove economic warnings on no-deal Brexit.

The UK’s economy shrank for the first time since 2012 in the second quarter of this year, as the manufacturing and construction sectors both slumped.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased by 0.2% between April and June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The economy was weaker than both market expectations and the Bank of England’s latest forecasts, which had pointed to flat growth in the quarter.

Sajid Javid, the chancellor, said the government was “determined to provide certainty” on Brexit.

“That’s why we are clear that the UK is leaving the EU on 31 October,” he said.

It comes as Jeremy Corbyn demanded the civil service move to prevent Boris Johnson for using a snap general election to force a no-deal Brexit.

PA Wire/PA Images

Chuka Umunna, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson, said today’s figures were “confirmation that the Tories’ plan to crash the UK out of the EU has crashed our economy”.

“Pursuing a no-deal Brexit is a political choice without a mandate: these figures show people’s jobs and livelihoods are being sacrificed at the altar of political extremism,” he said.

Peter Dowd, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, tweeted: “Of course, nothing to do with Tory economic incompetence whatsoever.”

Rob Kent Smith, head of GDP at the ONS, said: “GDP contracted in the second quarter for the first time since 2012 after robust growth in the first quarter.

“Manufacturing output fell back after a strong start to the year, with production brought forward ahead of the UK’s original departure date from the EU.

“The construction sector also weakened after a buoyant beginning to the year, while the often-dominant service sector delivered virtually no growth at all.”

The ONS said companies had been building up additional goods in the first quarter in anticipation of a March Brexit.

But with the original deadline later called off in favour of an October exit, firms which spent the first three months of the year stockpiling look to have been using up their stores before building up new reserves.