Big business is already casting doubt on Boris Johnson’s buccaneering claim that 2020 would be a “fantastic” year in his New Year address.
The UK economy ended 2019 in “stagnation” amid long-term uncertainty and rising business costs, according to a major new report.
The British Chambers of Commerce said its research suggested “protracted weakness” across the economy, affecting firms in manufacturing and services.
It warned the Prime Minister must move quickly to ensure that his Brexit plans deliver “a clear future trading relationship” with the European Union to strengthen prospects.
The BCC’s survey of more than 6,400 businesses, covering the final quarter of 2019, highlighted a worsening picture in the services sector, which accounts for almost 80% of economic output.
Investment plans remain weak by historic standards, while cash flow has only improved slightly from its lowest level in eight years.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This survey confirms, exactly as the vast majority of economists predicted in 2010, that the Tory economic strategy of austerity and lack of investment would result in a lost decade.
“It’s not just the uncertainty caused by the Government’s negotiations with the EU undermining our economy but 10 years of failed and discredited Tory economic policies.”
It came as the Financial Times’ annual survey of more than 85 economists predicted the so-called ‘Boris bounce’ following the Tories’ election victory would “swiftly fizzle out in 2020 as the uncertainties from Brexit continue to curb business investment.”