Allison Pearson, the usually wacko pundit now at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, yesterday declared that she was a thicko, then added “Exactly, as we thickos predicted IMF: UK economy to grow faster than eurozone after Brexit”. Could this be true? If so, it would be the Brexiteers’ very own Holy Grail, a result that not even diehard Tories could have hoped for before last month’s General Election.
Maybe there was a nugget of truth in the claim: after all, it wasn’t just Mail Online that was pitching the idea. This morning’s edition of the Murdoch Times claimed “British economy will grow faster than Eurozone rivals, says IMF”. The Telegraph, for some reason, relegates the happy news to a smaller front page item, but nevertheless still claims “UK will outperform Eurozone, says IMF”. Others are proclaiming this new reality.
Like, for instance, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, claiming “The IMF has predicted that the the UK economy will outpace the Eurozone in its new forecasts released yesterday. The forecasts, stretching two years in[to] the future, show the UK’s growth will accelerate in both 2020 and 2021 … Only the US and Canada are set to grow faster out of the world’s major advanced economies”.
That would be a remarkable outcome. The problem is that it’s not what the IMF predicted, and the headline in Ms Phillips’ Tweet - “IMF: UK economic growth dependant on orderly Brexit” - gives a strong hint why that might be. Even the upbeat Mail Online report only “Suggests UK economy could grow 1.4 per cent in 2020 and 1.5 per cent in 2021” and warns “But IMF warns UK growth is dependent on 'gradual transition' away from EU”.
Moreover, the Guardian has stressed “The [IMF] has warned that the world economy is increasingly vulnerable to the impact of the climate emergency as the Washington-based organisation downgraded its forecasts for 2020 and 2021” before adding “The UK is expected to grow only modestly and in line with the IMF’s previous forecast at 1.3% last year, 1.4% this year and 1.5% next year. This is based on an orderly exit from the EU later this year and a smooth transition to a new trading relationship from 2021”.
“Orderly exit”. “Smooth transition”. What might that mean? The Independent’s report spells it out. “‘The growth forecast assumes an orderly exit from the European Union at the end of January followed by a gradual transition to a new economic relationship,’ [the IMF] World Economic Outlook said, adding that its forecasts depended on the UK and EU ‘averting’ a no-deal exit”. Averting a no-deal exit. That’s what it means.
Moreover, if you actually read the IMF’s report, this is what it says about the UK: “In the United Kingdom, growth is expected to stabilize at 1.4 percent in 2020 and firm up to 1.5 percent in 2021 - unchanged from the October WEO”. Anyone would think from the press optimism that there had been an upward revision of previous forecasts. Nope.
The IMF also says of the Eurozone “Projected improvements in external demand support the anticipated firming of growth”. And no caveats about orderly exits or smooth transitions.The optimism comes with a whole row of very large asterisks.
The IMF says No No Deal. No Hard Brexit. Or Else. What you will not read in the papers.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at