Britain's free-spending consumers again confounded warnings that June's Brexit vote would cause an immediate slowdown in the country's economy, driving robust growth in the final three months of 2016. Ivor Bennett reports.
Napoleon saw Britain as a nation of shopkeepers. A more accurate description now perhaps, a nation of consumers. Because despite the uncertainty around Brexit, people spending just as much as ever. Britain's services sector grew by 0.8 percent in the last three months of 2016 Helping the economy grow by 0.6 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PHILIP HAMMOND, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER, SAYING: "What the figures today show is that the UK economy continues to be resilient and continues to confound the sceptics." Many had predicted Brexit would spell recession. But last year the UK was among the fastest-growing major economies At 2 percent, year-on-year growth was even more than Germany's. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PHILIP HAMMOND, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER, SAYING: "I sense that the period in which our European partners were wanting to chastise us, has moved on and what people are wanting to do now is look for a practical solution that works for us and works the European Union and will make all our people more prosperous in the future." But the optimism's not matched by everyone. While the Prime MInister has laid out Britain's vision of a solution. There's no guarantee it'll match the EU's. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER DIXON, GLOBAL FINANCIAL ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK, SAYING: "Failure I think to deliver on some of the key aspects of her policy could certainly leave UK-based businesses at a disadvantage whether that's in the industrial sector or the financial sector. So I think that while last week was seen as a positive by many, I think that the bad news may yet filter through." For some it already has. The head of the UK's car industry body said investment fell in 2016 after several years of growth. Many seeing not just bumps in the road but uncertainty over its ultimate direction.