UK poorest nation per capita in northwest Europe, research shows

SNP says figures show why Scotland better off breaking from ‘poor man of northwest Europe’

Adam Forrest
Monday 28 June 2021 15:42 BST
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<p>Boris Johnson has promised UK will be better off outside EU</p>

Boris Johnson has promised UK will be better off outside EU

Boris Johnson is prime minister of the poorest country in north west Europe based on wealth per head of population, research shows.

Analysis by the House of Commons research library – based on International Monetary Fund (IMF) data – shows the UK lags behind all 13 of its closest neighbours when it comes to per capita wealth.

The 2021 figures show that the UK has a gross domestic product (GDP) income per head of the population of just £31,038 – behind other poor performers France on £32,622 and Finland on £34,187.

Luxembourg was found to have the highest GDP per capita in north west Europe, with more than £80,000 per person – followed by Ireland (£65,411) and Switzerland (£50,015).

Nicola Sturgeon’s party seized on the figures and claimed they demonstrated why Scotland would be better off breaking from “the poor man of northwest Europe”.

The SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster Kirsten Oswald MP said the evidence shows that independent countries of Scotland’s size or smaller “do better” than the UK.

“It’s increasingly clear that independence is the only way to unlock Scotland’s full economic potential – so we can be as wealthy and successful as our European neighbours,” said Ms Oswald.

“The UK is the poor man of northwest Europe – with the lowest wealth per head of any country for the whole of the 21st century, and a wealth gap with our European neighbours that has grown worse over the past two decades.”

The IMF figures also suggest the wealth gap between the UK and its closest European neighbours has widened over the past 20 years.

The UK’s GDP per capita was below the average for northwest Europe by around £5,000 in 2000 (7.6 per cent below the average). The gap had increased to around £10,000 in 2021 (16.3 per cent below the average).

SNP’s deputy Westminster chief Kirsten Oswald with Nicola Sturgeon

Mr Johnson has promised that Brexit will lead to a “national renewal” and boost Britain’s economic opportunities around the world.

But recent analysis by The Independent of recent studies on the UK’s GDP shows the damage done by Brexit equates to a loss of between £400m and £800m a week.

A UK government spokesperson said: “The UK government will continue to deliver for the people of Scotland – our economy is one of the strongest in the world, in large part thanks the strength or our Union.

“Scotland continues to benefit from the £352bn package of coronavirus support, which is one of the most generous in the world and has protected one in three Scottish jobs and more than 90,000 businesses.”

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