THE UK is facing an economic shock ‘as big as the war’ but can emerge from it with a better outcome, a leading economist told an online conference this week.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce staged its annual Global Trade Conference examining a range of issues, including those provoked by the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit.
The conference, sponsored by Birmingham City University, DykeYaxley and Lemonzest, was hosted by chief executive Henrietta Brealey and Mandy Haque, director of the Chamber’s international business hub, and featured talks from a variety of regional and international business leaders and politicians.
Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, the global accounting firm, was speaking in a joint presentation with his colleague Simon Hart, international partner at RSM, on the global economic impact of events in the past year.
Addressing whether the Covid-19 pandemic had masked the impact of Brexit, Mr Brusuelas said: “My impression is that the pandemic brought forward a lot of the Brexit issues that you would have had over a number of years into just 15 months.
“The UK economy has gone through the biggest shock than it has in a couple of centuries.
“This is as big as the war and the data sometimes says it’s worse.
“There are going to be some real challenges but one gets the sense that Brexit is in the rear view mirror.
“I think that’s a good way to rediscovering the UK economy and re-imagining UK firms in the post-pandemic situation.
“But tensions will go away.
“This is starkly different from what we saw in the great financial crisis and you are going to get a better outcome.
“Fresh diplomatic initiatives will smooth out some of the tensions – simply because it’s in everybody’s interests to do so.”
Mr Hart said: “There is no doubt that Brexit has had an impact on the UK economy. It has been masked by the pandemic and maybe that’s not a bad thing in many respects. There will be an on-going evolution of the relationship.”
Both felt that there was going to be a post-pandemic boom in global activity but the ability of businesses to recover from the constraints on production during the crisis was critical.