Life in the slow lane

Assessing the UK’s economic and trade performance since 2010


This briefing note is the third output in a programme of outputs designed to put the upcoming UK general election in context, supported by the Nuffield Foundation. It looks at the performance of the UK economy and trade since 2010. The UK grew faster than other G7 economies in the first quarter of 2024 but, … Continued

Decent exposure

An overview of how Britain’s exposure to trade has changed


In this briefing note we assess how the exposure to international trade has changed over the past two decades. First, we consider the role that declining manufacturing employment has played on how exposed workers at different pay levels have become. Second, we explore how we have become more reliant on international trade through our everyday … Continued

Local roots of trade routes

The UK’s regional services trade over time


Services trade is increasingly important for the UK Politicians are often laser-focussed on goods trade, but trade in services is increasingly important for the UK’s growth story. Globally, services trade growth is expected to continue to outpace goods trade growth – with the share of services predicted to rise from 25 per cent of trade … Continued

Trading Up

The role of the post-Brexit trade approach in the UK’s economic strategy


After nearly half a century of EU membership, Britain needs a trade strategy. The stakes are high: such a strategy shapes what families and firms buy from abroad, and what gets produced domestically; influences our jobs, productivity levels and, ultimately, living standards; and contributes a major plank of Britain’s international policy at a time of … Continued

Open for business?

UK trade performance since leaving the EU


The overwhelming consensus was that Brexit – which raised trade barriers with the EU – would make the UK less open, less competitive and reduce the size of the economy. The fact that the UK is the only G7 country yet to regain its pandemic level of GDP seemed to corroborate these gloomy predictions. But … Continued

The Big Brexit

An assessment of the scale of change to come from Brexit


Leaving the EU represents the largest change in the UK’s relationship with the rest of the world in nearly half a century. It is a profound change in economic governance, that will reorient production away from trade with the EU and towards the domestic market, impacting people, places and firms across the UK. Understanding the … Continued

Home and away

The UK labour market in a post-Brexit world


This briefing note considers a number of ways in which the labour market could be affected as the UK moves to a tighter, post-Brexit immigration regime in January 2021. Under the new rules, legal avenues for low-skilled migrant workers to enter the UK will be more restrictively drawn, with implications for firms, resident foreign-born workers … Continued

Counting the cost: UK living standards since the 2016 referendum


Household incomes are around £1,500 year lower today than they were expected to be before the Brexit referendum – with the UK having experienced the sharpest income growth slowdown of any economy for which the OECD publish data. This note focuses on the UK’s recent economic performance, going beyond the usual focus on GDP to look at the impact on household living standards across the UK.

Changing Lanes: The impact of different post-Brexit trading policies on the cost of living


The issue of trade has returned to the frontline of British policy making and politics for the first time in 40 years, but little has been said about what the impact of changes in the UK’s trade regime could be on living standards. This paper aims to fill that gap by looking at what impact two “no deal” Brexit scenarios could have on prices and living standards.

Brexit & trade
Economic growth
Political parties and elections

The Importance of Place: explaining the characteristics underpinning the Brexit vote across different parts of the UK


Post-referendum analysis has highlighted the importance of demographic, economic and cultural factors on individuals’ vote. In this note, we consider the importance of place; highlighting the extent to which those same factors matter across 378 of Britain’s 380 local authorities. We test the strength of the relationship between these different factors and the vote while holding … Continued

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