“Choppy recovery” or double dip?

There are too many warning signs for the coalition to dismiss fears of another downturn.

As expected, the Bank of England has cut its growth forecast for next year from 3.4 per cent to a more realistic 2.5 per cent. The Bank didn't comment on the increasing possibility of a double-dip recession, but its quarterly inflation report this morning makes it clear that the remarkable growth of the past quarter (1.1 per cent) won't be sustained.

Here's the key passage, on what Mervyn King said would be a "choppy recovery":

GDP growth is likely to slow in Q3. In part, that is because Q2 growth was erratically strong. But there are also signs that underlying growth may be weakening. Business confidence has fallen across a range of surveys and the CIPS/Markit business activity indices fell back across all sectors in July.

But, if we're to believe the Telegraph's Ben Brogan, George Osborne is relaxed about the state of the economy. Brogan writes:

The prospect of a double dip -- specifically a return to recession -- is dismissed as unlikely. The Chancellor, who returns next week to take the reins while the Prime Minister is on holiday, sees signs of recovery building in the UK and in Europe. He reckons attempts to create a new narrative of an economy once again on the slide is a operation run by the left and its chums and driven by the likes of Ed Balls (the Tories pray that whichever of the Milibands ends up as leader will make him shadow chancellor).

But lower consumer spending, falling house prices and weaker-than-expected recovery in the US are all good reasons for him to avoid being so sanguine.

This morning's employment figures are encouraging, but the real test will come once the VAT rise and those 25 per cent cuts kick in. Is the private sector strong enough to sustain the recovery through the cuts? The reputation of the coalition depends on it.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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France to bulldoze Calais Jungle days after child refugees arrive in the UK

The camp houses thousands. 

Refugees and migrants in Calais began queuing up for buses this morning as the French authorities plan to demolish the "Jungle" camp.

But activists fear that, unless France significantly speeds up its asylum process, the displaced people will simply move to other camps along the northern French coast.

Meanwhile, the first children of Calais brought to the UK under the Dubs Amendment arrived at the weekend.

The camp known as the Jungle, in a wasteland by the port of Calais, is actually the latest manifestation in a series of camps established since 1999, when a French reception centre became too crowded.

However, it has swelled as a result of the refugee crisis, and attempts by residents to sneak onto lorries entering the Channel Tunnel have become daily occurences. The French authorities bulldozed part of it earlier this year.

Ahead of the latest demolishment, which is expected to happen on Tuesday, Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “In February this year over 50 per cent of the camp was demolished and yet six months later the camp is bigger than it has ever been before. 

"This is clear evidence that demolitions do not act as a deterrent.  The refugees come because they have no choice."

Future refugees will go to other camps with even less facilities, she warned.

The camp houses thousands of residents, but because of the authorities' unwillingness to legitimise it, there is no official presence. Instead, the residents must rely on volunteer aid services and have little means to stop intruders entering. 

Although conditions in the camp can be dire, residents have created a high street with basic tent shops and restaurants catering to the needs of its displaced population. Many of those in the camp say they are there because they hope to be reunited with family in Britain, or they have given up on ever being processed by the French authorities. 

After the UK government was pressurised into passing the Dubs Amendment, which provides sanctuary to unaccompanied child refugees, some children from the camp have arrived in the UK. The first group is reportedly mostly girls from Eritrea, who will be processed at a UK immigration centre.

One of the MPs crucial to ensuring the Dubs Amendment delivered, Stella Creasy, said many more still needed help. 

Children reunited with their families under the Dublin Convention arrived in the UK last week, although their arrival was overshadowed by a debate over age checks.  

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.