Philip Hammond blames Brexit for Britain’s stalling economy

Chancellor Philip Hammond today admitted Britain’s economy is being hit by Brexit as official figures showed growth has slowed to a crawl.

Mr Hammond sought to reassure business chiefs that the deadlock over Brexit will be broken within “weeks” — as fears of a recession grew, especially if there is a no-deal departure on March 29.

The Tory Chancellor warned the UK economy was being “overshadowed” by Brexit uncertainty.

It comes after official figures revealed slower than expected growth of 0.2% in the last quarter of 2018.

It’s down from 0.6% in the previous quarter.

Britain’s services sector shrank by 0.2% in December, manufacturing shrank by 0.7% and construction by 0.3%.

Mr Hammond told Sky News: “It’s a solid performance from the economy when you took at what’s happening globally and in other competitor countries.

“But of course there is no doubt that our economy is being overshadowed by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process.

“The soon we can resolve that the better, and the quicker we can get back to more robust growth in the future.”

But Eurosceptic International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said blaming Brexit was “missing the point.”

Speaking in Switzerland, he said: “Clearly there are those who believe that Brexit is the only economic factor applying to the UK economy.

“I think you’ll find that the predicted slowdown in a number of European economies is not disconnected from the slowdown, for example, in China.

“The idea that Brexit is the only factor affecting the global economy is just to miss the point.”

Prime Minister Theresa May is to give a statement to Parliament on Tuesday on the latest developments in Brexit talks, Downing Street announced earlier.

The PM had been expected to deliver her statement on Wednesday ahead of a Commons debate on Thursday, but her official spokesman said the earlier timing would “give Parliament a couple of days to digest the content”.

Labour will use a vote on Thursday to attempt to force Mrs May to bring her Brexit deal back to the Commons for a showdown by February 26 to prevent her “running down the clock” to the UK’s scheduled departure date of March 29.

But the Prime Minister is expected to offer MPs a further chance to vote on non-binding amendments on February 27.

The move is aimed at postponing a rebellion by ministers who are committed to removing the possibility of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal on March 29.

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