Britain's economy remained stuck in low gear in the third quarter, but price pressures may keep the Bank of England on track to raise interest rates. As David Pollard reports, the new data was realeased just before a mishap-ridden conference speech by UK prime minister, Theresa May.
Critics had already dubbed this the Conservative party conference to forget ... And no-one might want to do that more than its keynote speaker. First: the coughing fit. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING (AS SHE TAKES A DRINK OF WATER): "The deficit is back to pre-crisis levels. Sounds if my voice isn't on track ...." And then the prankster, handing the prime minister a P45 end-of-employment certificate .... The spotlight here also on the main Brexit battleground: the economy. Data reveals new signs of strain as services show a surprise pick-up in activity. But new orders showing their weakest increase in over a year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GARRY WHITE, CHIEF INVESTMENT COMMENTATOR AT CHARLES STANLEY, SAYING: "Slightly disappointing, slightly weak. It means that when we get the first reading of third quarter GDP in a few weeks that is also going to be weak, possibly not rate hike territory." The pressure to hike isn't entirely off the Bank of England either. The PMI report shows costs borne by service companies rising at their fastest since February. While their own prices increased by the quickest rate in five months. Inflation worries likely to further undermine confidence among consumers - and politically-wary investors. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, 7IM, JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SAYING: "Oh dear. Where do we sit with Brexit? What we just want to see is some are some idea as to what this is going to be looking like. And the trouble is we're dealing with the political hyperbole which is driving us in one direction, driven primarily by a faction of the right wing of the Conservative Party, against business reality which is actually trying to actually get decisions made faster." After her speech, critics and Twitter posters derided May's performance. Asking whether she must quit the leadership. The writing now on the wall, some said ... if not all of it.