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Are GDP figures first sign of Brexit slowdown? asks Swindon Initiative

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Ian LarrardIan LarrardThe director of a business advisory service for Swindon and Wiltshire has asked whether the latest GDP figures are an indication of a post-Brexit slowdown.

The latest GDP figures for the UK economy show that growth in the first quarter was 0.3 percent - down from 0.7 percent in the previous quarter.

Commenting on the figures, Ian Larrard, director of the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative at Business West, said: “This is not a disaster, of course, but the unanswered question to this announcement must be: is this the first sign of a post Brexit slowdown?

“Some evidence points to this being the case, although former trade minister Vince Cable was quick to point out that it would take a few more quarters’ figures to really confirm this to be the case.

“The main reason for the current slowdown centres on declines in consumer focused industries such as retail shops and hotels where rising inflation is undoubtedly having a detrimental effect.

“Hitherto, growth in the economy has been driven by shoppers particularly and more spending on credit, which of course, took in the Christmas and New Year period.

“That consumer spending and buying on credit cards is slowing as inflation starts to bite and wages remain static with prices rising - much of that being put at the door of Brexit.

“It was curious that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, did not make any major comment on the figures apart from saying he believed the economy was very resilient.

“Is this because the government is in election mode and does not want to get into a challenging debate on how deep the impact of Brexit is already affecting our economy?

“Time will tell but all the indications are that today’s GDP figures will mean a period of more sluggish growth with the effect of Brexit - particularly on price rises."