UK Economy Has Turned Corner, Sunak Tells Business Leaders

As inflation undershoots market expectations, Rishi Sunak presents the case for optimism to a throng of business bosses

Alliance News 15 February, 2024 | 1:03AM
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Rishi Sunak UK Main

The UK's economy has "turned the corner", the prime minister has told business bosses at the first meeting of his 2024 Business Council.

Labelling himself "unashamedly pro-business", Sunak delivered short opening remarks to chief executives gathered in Downing Street yesterday morning.

He acknowledged "global headwinds" affecting businesses, referencing disruption in the Red Sea, where violence by Houthi rebels has caused firms to redirect shipments. Among other things this has impact tea supplies.

Overall, however, the prime minister was optimistic about business.

"I'm absolutely determined to make the UK the best place in the world to start to grow and invest in businesses," he told the assembled bosses, which included the chief executive of Rolls Royce (RR).

"Of course we're still battling with lots of global headwinds, not least the Red Sea at the moment, but at the start of this year I absolutely believe that the economy has turned the corner and we're now pointing in the right direction.

"Hopefully that's something that you're seeing in your businesses, but inflation has been more than halved from 11% down to 4%, mortgage rates are starting to come down. Everyone is predicting us to grow this year. I think PwC has said that we're going to outperform France, Germany, and Japan this year".

It comes as the UK's consumer prices index (CPI) showed an unchanged reading of 4% for January, undercutting the 4.2% expected by economists and analysts. Nevertheless, it remains double the 2% target set by the Bank of England. The Office for National Statistics will publish fresh gross domestic product figures for December 2023 later today.

The prime minister said that "because of all of that" the government has been able to start cutting taxes. He added that business "defined" his life before politics.

"I grew up in a small business family, worked for my mum, did her accounts", he said.

"(It) defined my career before I entered Parliament, I obviously worked in investing and finance, investing in businesses, helping them grow, and scale and thrive.

"And obviously, it defined my initial time in government […] as chancellor of the exchequer working with many of you during the pandemic".

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