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Country Forecast United Kingdom April 2018 Updater

Country Forecast United Kingdom April 2018 Updater

  • April 2018
  • ID: 5385948
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • Following a snap general election in June 2017, in which the Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority, the prime minister, Theresa May, formed a minority government based on a "confidence and supply" agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The Economist Intelligence Unit does not expect it to last a full five-year term; its working majority of 13 (down from 17 before the election) will be eroded by by-elections, and it will face domestic and external challenges during the Brexit process.
  • Mrs May will continue to face difficulties in reconciling opposing factions in her cabinet, who have very different views about negotiating the UK's future relationship with the EU. An important milestone in the Brexit negotiations came in March 2018 when EU leaders approved the terms of the transition period, which will last for 21 months from when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. However, divisions in the cabinet and on the Conservative backbenches over Brexit are likely to persist in 2018-19.
  • Completing the agreement on the terms of the UK's withdrawal will take priority in 2018, but talks on the future trading relationship will begin this year. The government intends to leave the single market and the customs union, and will aim to reach a comprehensive free-trade agreement with the EU. We expect a trade deal to be in place by 2021.
  • The economy has been resilient in the wake of the Brexit vote, growing by 1.9% in 2016 and 1.8% in 2017, but is likely to lose momentum in 2018-19 as rising inflation and uncertainty about the Brexit negotiations dampen domestic demand. We forecast average annual real GDP growth of 1.5% in 2018-19, picking up to an average of 1.8% per year in 2020-22.
  • The government's budget deficit has narrowed from 4.3% of GDP in 2015, to an estimated 2.9% of GDP in 2017. We expect a further gradual decline in 2018-22, with the deficit contracting to 1.5% of GDP in 2022. The Bank of England (BoE, the central bank) has signalled a readiness to raise interest rates again after doing so in November 2017 for the first time in a decade, and we expect the next increase to happen by August 2018.

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