United Kingdom watchdog puts Brexit war chest at £26.6b

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is seen outside Downing Street ahead of a Brexit vote in London

Britain faces its first fall in house prices since 2012, the Office for Budget Responsibility has said.

"We estimate (treating loans partly as grants) could increase the structural budget deficit by around 12 billion pounds or 0.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2020-21", the OBR said.

Brexit is casting a "cloud of uncertainty" over the British economy, Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted, after MPs rejected Theresa May's deal and the Budget watchdog slashed growth forecasts.

However, Britain's independent budget forecasters said nearly half of Hammond's fiscal headroom might be lost, depending on how official statisticians treat student loans in the public accounts.

Last night's vote leaves a cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy.

The projections allowed Philip Hammond, the chancellor, to bank £26.8 billion in lower borrowing over the next five years, which he pledged to use to cut taxes and raise public spending if parliament agreed a Brexit deal.

Hammond told lawmakers he could relax his grip on the public finances if they spared Britain the shock of leaving the world's biggest trading bloc without an agreement.

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In Hammond's speech yesterday, the Treasury's official view on a "disorderly Brexit" were also made clear, during which Hammond said it had the potential to become "a significant blow" to the United Kingdom economy.

But the OBR also warned that a disorderly no-deal would pose a risk to the predicted growth rates, as the numbers are based on an assumed scenario in which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union with a deal on March 29, and enters a transition period.

He warned: "Leaving with no deal would mean significant disruption in the short and medium-term and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the long-term, than if we leave with a deal. That is not what the British people voted for in June 2016".

With the Brexit deadline approaching on March 29 and no deal reached over the UK's departure, the government is stepping up economic contingency plans.

Hammond revealed in his Spring Statement that the forecast for the country's growth in 2019 was 1.2 percent, the weakest since 2009, a sharp drop from the 1.6 percent predicted in the his budget last October.

"This is up from £15.4 billion in October, as the fiscal costs of the temporary near-term cyclical weakness of the economy have been swamped by the fiscal gains from higher income tax and lower debt interest spending".

Earlier yesterday, the government unveiled plans for temporary tariffs if the United Kingdom crashes out without a deal.

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