Brexit blamed for worst business investment figures since 2008
As we write a no-deal Brexit on Friday (12 Apr) is still a running possibility with the UK’s destiny likely in the hands of EU leaders at their emergency summit.
Whatever the outcome on 12 April, whether crashing out without a deal, a further extension or even the nuclear option of revoking Article 50, it is unlikely to provide a full stop to the Brexit saga given the volatile political situation.
And the uncertainty is already having an increasing impact on business investment. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show investment fell in all four quarters of 2018, adding up to a 4.2% decline for the year as a whole. This is the worst set of figures since 2008 and the global financial crisis.
The flipside to this situation is that UK companies are sitting on a lot of cash which could be deployed if any measure of certainty returns, providing a potential boost to the economy. ONS data shows private firms are sitting on £747bn worth of cash, a record high 35.3% of national GDP.