Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs for today, including Nick Clegg two years on, Labour's legacy, and . . . ti

1. Shamik Das at Left Foot Forward reveals that a Tory press release claiming that the Ministry of Justice has banned tinsel was a hoax.

2. At LabourList, Oli de Botton discusses the news that white working-class boys are falling behind in school, and the problems this poses for progressives.

3. Liberal Democrat Voice has opinions from Iain Roberts and Neil Stockley on the second anniversary of Nick Clegg's leadership, plus an analysis of his poll ratings.

4. Peter Hoskin at Coffee House makes the case (from the right) for John Hutton as a "hero" of New Labour.

5. Should Labour apologise for its mistakes? Andrew Sparrow of the Guardian summarises the arguments.


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The Brexit slowdown is real

As Europe surges ahead, the UK is enduring its worst economic growth for five years. 

The recession that the Treasury and others forecast would follow the EU referendum never came. But there is now unmistakable evidence of an economic slowdown. 

Growth in the second quarter of this year was 0.3 per cent, which, following quarter one's 0.2 per cent, makes this the worst opening half since 2012. For individuals, growth is now almost non-existent. GDP per capita rose by just 0.1 per cent, continuing the worst living standards recovery on record. 

That Brexit helped cause the slowdown, rather than merely coincided with it, is evidenced by several facts. One is that, as George Osborne's former chief of staff Rupert Harrison observes, "the rest of Europe is booming and we're not". In the year since the EU referendum, Britain has gone from being one of the west's strongest performers to one of its weakest. 

The long-promised economic rebalancing, meanwhile, is further away than ever. Industrial production and manufacturing declined by 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively, with only services (up 0.5 per cent) making up for the shortfall. But with real wage growth negative (falling by 0.7 per cent in the three months to May 2017), and household saving at a record low, there is limited potential for consumers to continue to power growth. The pound's sharp depreciation since the Brexit vote has cut wages (by increasing inflation) without producing a corresponding rise in exports. 

To the UK's existing defects – low productivity, low investment and low pay – new ones have been added: political uncertainty and economic instability. As the clock runs down on its departure date, Britain is drifting towards Brexit in ever-worse shape. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.