Belfast Telegraph

Economy has faced challenges on several fronts since Brexit vote

The economy, businesses and consumers have borne the brunt of the Brexit vote, with growth slowing, inflation soaring and a host of financial firms beginning to shift jobs overseas as a result.

Since June 24 2016 the City's position as a global financial centre and the engine of the British economy, regarded as one of Margaret Thatcher's most enduring legacies, has been put at risk by her Tory successors.

Thousands of jobs are already on track to leave the UK, and banking executives at JPMorgan and Citi say Britain will continue losing out over the next decade as the EU builds up its own financial services industry.

HSBC is on course to move 1,000 jobs from its London office to France where it already has a full service universal bank, though Frankfurt has emerged as a favourite among foreign banks.

Standard Chartered has contacted German regulators about plans to set up a Frankfurt subsidiary, and Japanese banks Nomura and Daiwa are understood to be on track to expand their operations in the German city.

Luxembourg is slowly becoming a hub for insurers including Hiscox, RSA and AIG, though Legal & General and Lloyd's of London have opted for Dublin and Brussels, respectively

Others like JP Morgan, which currently has 16,000 staff in the UK, will ramp up operations at a number of its EU sites, with plans to move up to 1,000 London jobs to offices Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg in light of Brexit.

Fears are also growing after legislative reforms put forward by the European Commission outlined the potential for forced repatriation of "systemically important" euro clearing houses out of London and into EU borders.

Piling on the misery, a deluge of British companies have blamed Brexit for weak results, profit warnings, job losses and plant closures over the past year.

Budget airline easyJet racked up hefty half-year losses after being stung by the collapse in the value of the Brexit-hit pound.

Retail bellwether John Lewis has warned the group is facing a "turbulent and challenging" high street amid "significant" input cost hikes from the Brexit-hit pound, while pointing to further job losses.

Car giant Ford is said to be planning 1,100 job cuts at its plant in Bridgend as the prospect of new EU tariffs in the wake of Britain crashing out of the single market cause automakers to reconsider their operations in the UK.

Concerns have also been raised about post-Brexit job losses at Vauxhall's two UK sites, where 4,600 people are employed, following the carmaker's £1.9bn takeover by Peugeot-owner PSA Group.

Foxtons saw profits plummet as the London-focused estate agent was hit by slowing demand following the vote, while Mike Ashley's Sports Direct also warned that the retailer would be hit after the Brexit induced collapsed in sterling.

In better news, steel giant Liberty House announced in May plans to create 300 jobs and secure the future of five plants, in what the company described as a "vote of confidence" in British industry.

Also, prominent Brexiteer Sir James Dyson announced plans to open a second British campus for his technology and innovation firm, Dyson.

The new site will increase Dyson's footprint in the UK tenfold, and will enable the company to create more high-skilled jobs in Britain while boosting UK exports.

Meanwhile, discount retailer B&M is ramping up expansion plans as it prepares to cash in on a slowing economy and a Brexit squeeze on consumer spending.

The biggest barometer of just how far confidence in the UK has diminished since the vote has been the pound's collapse.

Previously a strong and stable currency, sterling crashed to 31-year lows in the wake of the Brexit vote as uncertainty over the country's divorce from the EU wrought havoc.

Sterling tumbled from 1.50 against the US dollar to below 1.20 US dollars at one stage in the months that followed the referendum.

The pound has regained some of its poise this year, with Theresa May's ill-fated decision to call a snap election seeing it hit highs of 1.295 US dollars on hopes it would create more certainty in Brexit negotiations.

But the hung parliament outcome and Mrs May's humiliation brought its rebound to an abrupt halt and while it avoided another dramatic collapse, sterling has remained weighed down by political uncertainty.

Sterling's post-referendum slump has proved a boon for the FTSE 100 though, as blue chip multinational companies have seen their overseas earnings boosted.

Having sunk to 6138.7 on June 24 last year, it has since smashed through 7500 to reach all-time highs, thanks also to the so-called Trump bump after the surprise US presidential election result.

The wider UK economy has also proved resilient, confounding fears for a sharp slowdown that saw the Bank of England slash rates to an all-time low of 0.25% last August.

But the cracks are now starting to appear.

Growth slowed to a paltry 0.2% in the first quarter as Brexit-fuelled inflation has seen the consumer spending boom grind to a halt.

Inflation is now outstripping wages as the pound's plunge has sent the cost of imported goods and energy soaring.

With two years of Brexit negotiations still to go, there are fears the effects on the economy are only just beginning.

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