Britain’s economy has suffered its worst three months for more than a decade after official figures revealed output failed to grow once again in October.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the economy saw zero growth month-on-month in October, following two months of declining gross domestic product (GDP). This marks the first time the economy has failed to grow for three months in a row since early 2009 amid the recession following the global financial crisis.
The Conservatives who have spent the best part of a decade selling off public assets and subjecting public services to severe cuts have no such excuse for the embarrassing performance of the UK economy.
The ONS data also showed the economy grew by just 0.7% year-on-year in October – the worst such performance since June 2012.
And on a rolling three-month basis – seen as less volatile than the monthly data – the ONS said growth also stagnated in October, down from 0.3% growth between July and September.
Manufacturing output has also been reported to have fallen by 1.5%, 0.7% over the year – the worst since 2012. The prospect of Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit, complex arrangements between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and the very real possibility of a no-deal Brexit that the PM now refuses to rule out again, have affected the decisions of manufacturers and their ability to work in the UK.
Boris Johnson – under fire this week over his lack of honesty and for a lack of empathy for people who have suffered under NHS austerity – now faces a worrying economic backdrop for Thursday’s General Election day and also sees a dismal start for the final quarter of 2019.
‘Five more years of economic failure if Conservatives win election’
John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to news that the British economy saw no growth in the last three months and manufacturing output falling by 1.5%, with 0.7% over the year the worst since 2012, said: “We can look forward to five more years of economic failure and stagnation if the Conservatives win the election.
“Labour will get the economy moving with a first Budget on 5 February to end cuts once and for all, while the Conservatives will continue with the same approach that has left earnings below where they were ten years ago.
“Labour has an ambitious plan to put money in your pocket by boosting productivity and growth, and our first hundred days in government will deliver real change to the economy after years of going backwards.”
Economists said the economy was in danger of stagnating in the fourth quarter and looked likely to undershoot the Bank of England’s expectations for 0.2% growth.
Jack Leslie, economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The UK economy has slowed from a crawl to a halt over the course of 2019.
“Crucially the UK’s domestic challenges come against a weak global economic outlook for next year.
“While the main parties have avoided any discussion of this challenging economic environment during the election campaign, navigating it will be a central task for the next government nonetheless.”
The ONS data showed growth was hit by a poor performance in the construction sector, which saw output fall 2.3% month-on-month in October, while manufacturing also suffered a tough month amid Brexit and political uncertainty.
An ONS spokesman said: “There were increases across the services sector, offset by falls in manufacturing with factories continuing the weak performance seen since April.
“Construction also declined across the last three months with a notable drop in housebuilding and infrastructure in October.”
There were also disappointing official trade figures out on Tuesday, showing the deficit in goods and services widened to a seven-month high of £5.2 billion in October from £1.9 billion in September.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said stockpiling of exports ahead of the original October 31 Brexit deadline had “triggered another short-term surge in imports, prompting the overall trade deficit to balloon”.