Sean O'Grady: UK economy to drop out of world's top 10

Britain seems doomed to be relegated from the "premier league" of international economies over the next few years - with serious implications for its diplomatic status and international "clout". Stagnation at home and rapid economic growth in developing economies will push the UK as low as 11th in the global pecking order by 2015, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

Having clawed up to fourth place by the start of this decade, the recession has already seen Britain overtaken by China, Italy and France, and it seems likely that the slide will get worse.

Being ranked behind Brazil, India and Canada and only just ahead of Australia in the international league table, would add to existing pressure on the UK to relinquish some of its prized diplomatic privileges, such as the permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and its voting rights and power in forums such as the IMF.

In the Commonwealth, the British monarch's claim to remain head may be undermined if the UK becomes only the gathering's third or fourth most-important economic power. Scottish independence, although unlikely for now, would hasten the UK's slippage and further diminish its global prestige.

Perhaps the greatest shock will be psychological as much as political, as the decline in the UK's relative economic prowess will be part of a shift of power eastwards. Doug McWilliams, chief executive of the CEBR, commented: "Many Britons are only now getting used to no longer having an Empire. Even after the end of Empire, the world's political agenda continued to be set by people with broadly the same cultural framework as the British. But some of those who are increasingly setting the world agenda have a degree of post-colonial resentment against the British. It will be difficult to maintain the UK's high diplomatic profile when we are no longer in the world's top 10."

He added: "We will have to be prepared to put up with economic, political and social decisions made internationally in countries with very different approaches to, for example, human rights. This could prove traumatic."

Although the US will retain its place as the largest economy over the next few years, on present trends the Chinese could overtake it by the 2020s. The only comfort for British diplomats dismayed at their withering influence is that other EU nations seem likely to decline even more rapidly, and demographic changes may raise the UK's voting power in the Union over decades.

Mr McWilliams said: "Since most other European economies are likely to do nearly as badly, it is probable that our relative position in the EU will not change much. But can we maintain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council?"

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments