New figures show British public borrowing for the year slightly overshot a target set just a month ago and retail sales fell sharply. As David Pollard reports, the worrying economic data comes as President Obama flies to Britain on a mission to keep the UK in the EU.
A royal celebration to usher a monarch into her tenth decade. It's party time for Britain - if in fact, the economy is little to shout about. Consumer demand slackening... Public sector borrowing target limits overshot .... Unemployment ticking up ... And the pace of wage growth slowing... The latest UK data is not much of a birthday present for a British queen. Global uncertainly is still weighing on the UK, say economists. The bigger worry is Brexit. SOUNDBITE (English) ETX CAPITAL HEAD OF TRADING, JOE RUNDLE, SAYING: "Investment decisions by companies will have stalled until we get that vote out of the way in June, and of course if we vote to leave the EU, we've got a bunch of uncertainty for the next coming years, and I think that will put the UK into a fairly steep recession." But Barack Obama and the Queen might perhaps not talk Brexit when they lunch together this week. Though, after flying in from the Gulf, he is likely to intervene in the debate during his UK visit. With a close vote shaping up, any backing for Britain staying IN the EU is needed, say its supporters. SOUNDBITE (English) ETX CAPITAL HEAD OF TRADING, JOE RUNDLE, SAYING: "Investors will welcome heavyweights coming in and saying the UK should stay and will be more powerful within the EU." Brexit fans see unwelcome interference from the US president. They slam a government estimate of households losing over 4,000 pounds each through Brexit as 'spurious and unbelievable'. But, in any case, the UK public has some other numbers to cheer them up right now.