Bloomberg has had to report that British factories are putting in their best showing in five years — hours after claiming Brexit Britain had fallen behind Greece to become the “Sick Man of Europe”.
The initial report, which claimed Greece is “growing faster than Britain and is outperforming it in financial markets”, was embraced by the usual suspects in the so-called ‘Remain Resistance’, who have been eager to highlight any negative coverage of the post-referendum economy in order to claw back some of the credibility they lost after the “immediate and profound shock” they predicted before the Leave vote failed to materialise.
The outlandish claims may have been a bridge too far, however, with even neutral commentators being prompted to come out and rubbish them.
“The comparison [between Greece and Britain] is irrelevant bordering on the absurd but, for the record, on the official figures published to date, Greece is not growing faster than [the] UK,” remarked BBC interrogator-in-chief Andrew Neil.
“It might in 2018/19. But then it has a lot of ground to make up, having lost almost 30% of its GDP.”
I thought you said we were doing worse than Greece. https://t.co/yCGf9FlieK
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) February 11, 2018
Bloomberg’s follow-up report on British factories enjoying their strongest year since 2014 and their longest sustained run since the 1980s, with an 11 per cent “surge” in exports thanks in part to the cheaper pound, must have been published with some embarrassment.
The figures allowed Eurosceptics to heap even more ridicule on their earlier claim that Britain was the “Sick Man of Europe” post-referendum, and that stricken Greece, which backed away from a so-called ‘Grexit’, was in “roaring health”.
Greek unemployment rate: 20.9%. Youth unemployment rate: 43.7%. "Roaring health", according to Bloomberg. https://t.co/6L3ya7HqVG
— Mark Wallace (@wallaceme) February 11, 2018
The positive factory output figures are accompanied by a wave of individual good news stories, such as Japanese banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui announcing it will take 161,000 sq ft of office space at 100 Liverpool Street on a 20-year lease — a clear vote of confidence in Britain’s ability to remain a global leader in financial services after Brexit.
Indeed, despite widespread claims that a Leave vote would rip the guts out of Britain’s financial services sector — as well as triggering a recession and half a million job losses in the wider economy — figures published by CBRE suggest that office take-up is, in fact, running at record levels, with businesses leasing an astonishing one million sq ft of space in November.