Hot on the heels of figures showing recording levels of employment, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), has doubled growth up to 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 as output from Britain’s construction sector came in higher than previously estimated.
Meanwhile, exports increased by 7.3% to £620.2 billion on the back of increased trade with the rest of the world outside the EU.
Exports to Canada went up 12 per cent, India 31.8 per cent, Hong Kong 16.2, Japan 10.2 per cent Switzerland 17.8 per cent and China 15.3 per cent compared to just 10 per cent with the EU.
The latest evidence has underlined that despite attempts by Remainers and their EU allies in Brussels to undermine the British economy and force the UK into a bad deal, the prospect of Britain leaving the EU has boosted the economy.
It also has been hailed as evidence that Britain’s future wealth and success is dependent on markets outside the EU.
Non-EU countries remain the main destination for services exports (£167.4bn), making up 60.4 per cent of all services exports.
The figures also reveal the trade deficit continuing to narrow over the last year by £7.7 billion to £23.1billion.
International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox said: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of UK businesses up and down the country, exports of goods and services rose to a record high of £620 billion.
“Demand for quality British products remained strong from countries outside the EU including China, India andCanada and I’m putting companies in position to benefit from the growing global opportunities.”
In a swipe at the continued Project Fear campaign by Remainers, Dr Fox added: “Far from the negative forecasts after the EU referendum, there is every reason to be optimistic.
“Our trade deficit narrowed and UK business is delivering for Britain and succeeding on the world stage, and as an international economic department we are banging the drum for the growing demand for our goods and services.”
Meanwhile, the ONS raised the growth figure in its final estimate after a notable upward revision in construction output, which mainly reflects improvements to the way the sector’s work is measured.
ONS head of GDP Rob Kent-Smith said: “GDP growth was revised up slightly in the first three months of 2018, with later construction data, and significantly improved methods for measuring the sector, nudging up growth.
“These improved methods, introduced as part of ONS’s annual update to its figures, will lead to better early estimates of the construction sector with smaller revisions in the future.”
The ONS reiterated that the overall impact of extreme wintry weather caused by the Beast from the East on output in the first quarter “appears to be relatively small” but admitted that without it UK growth would have been even higher.
In other good news, the UK’s current account deficit was came in £17.7 billion, below forecasts of £18 billion, a narrowing of £1.8 billion from a revised deficit of £19.5 billion in the previous period.
The strong economic picture has raised speculation that there could be an increase in the base interest rate boosting incomes of many pensioners.
Howard Archer, chief economic advisor at EY ITEM Club, said the upward revision to GDP, as well as the recent evidence of a pick-up in retail sales in the second quarter, “fuels our belief that the MPC is more likely than not to hike interest rates from 0.50 per cent to 0.75 per cent at their August meeting.”
“There is likely to be only one interest rate hike in 2018, leaving interest rates at 0.75 per cent at the end of the year.
“We expect the Bank of England to raise interest rates twice in 2019 taking them up to 1.25 per cent as it looks to gradually normalise monetary policy.”