Britain’s priority: overcoming European growth lag

Diversions and disruption ahead on EU journey

Britain has suffered a GDP growth turnround compared with the European Union of around 1.5% a year since the Brexit referendum in 2016, the largest divergence for nearly 50 years. Lost economic output, on these estimates, amounts to around £30bn a year, or £570m a week. This is more than the £350m weekly net transfers to the EU that Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, now prime minister, exaggeratedly claimed in 2016 Britain would save by leaving the EU.

Overcoming the growth lag, coupled with defeating the coronavirus outbreak that has hit Britain harder economically than almost every other industrialised nation, are overriding priorities for Johnson’s hard-pressed government. The Christmas Eve conclusion of the 1,246-page EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement, signed on 30 December with provisional effect from 1 January, marks a new beginning, with the UK brandishing restored ‘sovereignty’ over borders, money and laws – however misleading the claim may b

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