Fake News: Blair Claims Brexit Harms Productivity, as Growth Hits Six-Year High

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Tony Blair claimed Friday that Brexit is already damaging Britain’s economy by hitting productivity – hours before new data revealed productivity growth has, in fact, hit a six-year high.

The former prime minister’s claim was included in a 32-page document arguing Brexit was harming the NHS, jobs, and living standards, likely designed to make the case for blocking Brexit by pushing for a second referendum in 2019, as he suggested Thursday.

The document quotes the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), who in November 2017 reduced its forecast for productivity growth by 0.5 per cent per annum.

“The renewed weakness of productivity growth over the first half of 2017 will almost certainly have been exacerbated by the Brexit Vote,” the Tony Blair Institute for Change quotes the OBR as saying.

However, following the Brexit referendum, in November 2016, the OBR was forced to admit they had been “too gloomy” about the UK economy after a Brexit vote and their recent productivity forecast was criticised as the return of “project fear”.

The critics were correct, as Friday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed growth in labour productivity hit a six-year high in the third quarter of last year, rising 0.9 per cent, following modest falls over the first six months of 2016.

Launching his push for a second referendum on Thursday, Mr. Blair also claimed that the Brexit vote had created “significant staff shortages in the NHS”.

However, investigations have found that while the number of European Union (EU) nurses being registered by the Nursing and Midwifery Council has fallen, the number of EU staffers in the NHS is still rising overall, and currently stands at an all-time high.

Furthermore, as BBC presenter John Humphrys pointed out, the fall in the numbers of new EU nurses being registered has not been attributed to Brexit, but the introduction of new English-language tests for foreigners.


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