The European Union economy slowed in the first quarter of the year, official Eurostat figures have showed. Economic growth in the Euro zone slowed to 0.4% for the period from January to March 2018, compared with 0.7% in the previous quarter. Growth in the 19-country single currency bloc reached 2.5% year-on-year.
The UK economy grew at its slowest rate since 2012 in the first quarter of the year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said. GDP growth was 0.1%, down from 0.4% in the previous quarter, driven by a sharp fall in construction output and a sluggish manufacturing sector.
The Bank of England is likely to raise interest rates twice this year and twice in 2019, despite a sluggish economy, says a forecasting body. Bank governor Mark Carney has said a rate rise is “likely” this year, but any increases will be gradual.
Former British Prime Minister John Major called on Wednesday for a free vote in parliament on whether to reject any deal negotiated with the European Union, warning the current plans are “bad politics” that will damage the economy.
EU leaders have agreed to spend more on common defense and security policy in their next long-term budget, said European Council President Donald Tusk. Leaders of 27 states were meeting in Brussels to shape the 2021-27 budget.
The UK economy expanded by less than previously thought in the last three months of 2017, official figures say. GDP grew by 0.4% in the October-to-December period, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, down from the initial estimate of 0.5%. The revision was due to slower growth in production industries, the ONS said.
UK has published proposals for how it wants the transition period immediately after Brexit to work. It says the period should last as long as it takes to prepare and implement the new processes and new systems. Number 10 denied this meant it would be longer than the planned two years.
More than 60 Conservative MPs have signed a letter to Theresa May making a series of suggestions about the government's Brexit strategy. The letter from the European Research Group says the UK should be free to negotiate and sign trade deals with other countries as soon as it leaves.
Theresa May is due to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she seeks to make progress on negotiating Brexit. The PM will travel on Friday to Berlin for the meeting at the Chancellery. It comes a day ahead of a speech on Saturday in which she is expected to set out the security partnership she wants to maintain with the EU.
For the first time in seven years, the Euro-zone's economy grew quicker than the UK's last year, according to data from Eurostat released on Wednesday. The preliminary growth estimates for the final quarter of 2017 showed the bloc of Euro nations growing at a combined 2.7% over the course of the year, having expanded 0.6% in the final quarter alone.