Britain is still in the growth slow lane

Only Cyprus, Greece and Portugal have grown at a slower rate than the UK.

Growth figures for most major European economies have been published today, so how do they compare with the UK's? Both France and Germany grew at a similar rate to Britain in the third quarter of this year, expanding by 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively, a point you can expect George Osborne to make repeatedly over the coming weeks.

But if we look at growth over the last 12 months (see the final column on the Eurostat chart), the comparison isn't such a happy one. While Germany has grown by 2.6 per cent and France has grown by 1.6 per cent, Britain has grown by just 0.5 per cent (-0.5 per cent in Q4 2010, 0.4 per cent in Q1, 0.1 per cent in Q2 and 0.5 per cent in Q3), a slower rate of growth than ever EU country expect Cyprus, Greece and Portugal. It's a reminder that, contrary to Osborne, the economy was flatlining even before the current crisis began. In fact, the current crisis won't begin to have a significant effect on growth until the fourth quarter, when growth is likely to be flat or worse.

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The uncomfortable truth is that Osborne's Britain has one of the lowest rates of growth in Europe and one of the highest rates of inflation. This is not a recovery worthy of the name.

Postscript: What about the US, you ask? Will Straw crunched the numbers on The Staggers earlier this month and showed that the American economy has grown by 1.6 per cent over the last year, more than three times the speed of the UK.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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