UK economic growth accelerated in the run-up to BREXIT

The UK?s economic growth accelerated in the run-up to the EU referendum, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The economy grew by 0.6% in the three months to the end of June, compared with 0.4% in January-March, the ONS said on Wednesday.

The referendum took place at the end of June, but the statistics agency said that there was little sign of uncertainty ahead of the crucial vote.

ONS chief economist Joe Grice said: ?Continued strong growth across services, particularly in retailing, reinforced by healthy growth in the manufacture of cars and pharmaceuticals, boosted output in the second quarter.

?Any uncertainties in the run-up to the referendum seem to have had a limited effect. Very few respondents to ONS surveys cited such uncertainties as negatively impacting their businesses.?

Last week?s Markit/CIPS purchasing managers? index (PMI), based on data for July, suggested that economic activity fell sharply in the weeks after the referendum.

A separate survey also released on Wednesday looks at high street sales and points to a decline in sales volumes.

The CBI reported that UK retail sales fell at the fastest pace in over four years in July. It said that weaker consumer confidence immediately after the EU referendum is a likely factor behind the decline.

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, commented:

?While conditions in the retail sector have weakened, we should be careful about reading too much too soon, as consumers were likely to err on the side of caution in the immediate period following a vote to leave the EU.

?Current low levels of inflation and high overall employment should support consumer spending in the near term, although the impact of lower sterling is likely to feed through to higher inflation over time.

?What businesses and consumers need now is calm and decisive leadership, a clear timetable and a plan for negotiating the UK?s future outside the EU to restore confidence.?