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Chris Price: Let's hope signs of business nervousness do not turn into a standstill after the EU vote

By Chris Price

Since the EU referendum, there has been no end of speculation about whether the result has been good or bad for the economy.

Last month, it was revealed the nation’s GDP grew by 0.6% in the second quarter of the year, way ahead of expectations, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It came days after drugs giant GSK revealed £275m investment plans in the UK and German investors at Deutsche Boerse backed a £21bn merger with the London Stock Exchange.

Flags in front of the EU Commission building in Brussels
Flags in front of the EU Commission building in Brussels

Brexiteers quickly jumped to say it was all proof that Project Fear had been just that – a baseless attempt to coerce voters into backing the status quo.

Yet there is still plenty of evidence of caution. The full effects of the decision to leave the EU are still far from clear. A growing number of bosses in the county expected their bottom line to worsen in the next year, according the Kent Invicta Chamber Quarterly Economic Survey.

Perhaps they had been duped by Project Fear when they were questioned in late May and early June, when the campaigning was in full swing. After all, growing numbers said UK sales and orders had actually improved.

But last week Lloyds revealed plans to close another 200 branches and axe 3,000 jobs, which it blamed on a “likely” downturn in the economy after the Brexit vote.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Master Builders has called for action from the Government to tackle the threat of a construction recession after two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Many commentators were lambasted for suggesting Brexit had something to do with the problems of Cardy Construction, the contractor founded in Canterbury in 1946, which filed for administration last month.

This Quarterly Economic Survey shows perhaps a slight nervousness about the economy before the vote. If the next one indicates a freeze in activity after the referendum, however slight, we could all be in trouble.

More from the Quarterly Economic Survey

Skills shortage affects 86% of firms trying to hire in Kent

Confidence in future profits and turnover weakens for Kent companies in run up to referendum

Rising raw material costs impacting firms in Kent

Jo James: Uncertain times after referendum but I’m sure we’ll rise to challenge

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