Is the economy really going ‘gangbusters’, as Rishi Sunak hopes?

A snap summer election is less surprising if we look beyond inflation and delve deeper into Britain’s economic predicament, writes James Moore. Rishi Sunak may have realised this is as good as it’s going to get in 2024

Thursday 23 May 2024 16:54 BST
Rishi Sunak in Downing Street after giving a statement about inflation
Rishi Sunak in Downing Street after giving a statement about inflation (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

With a mountain to climb to pull off an election victory, Rishi Sunak is hoping a resurgent economy will provide some firm handholds on the way to the top – perhaps even a North Face coat to insulate him from critics.

Lately, it has delivered. UK plc grew by 0.6 per cent in the first three months of the year, against the Reuters consensus forecast of 0.4 per cent. This was faster than in the US, France and Germany – something Mr Sunak highlighted as raindrops slid down his suit in Downing Street. It also beat the Eurozone as a whole.

Exiting last year’s shallow recession with the fastest growth in three years looks like a good start to the climb. While the International Monetary Fund issued a warning about Britain’s fiscal position, it nonetheless boosted its full-year forecast to growth of 0.7 per cent – not exactly “going gangbusters”, as Mr Sunak quoted during his first round of election interviews on Thursday – but much better than last year.

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