Britain is £490bn poorer than was thought, revised Office for National Statistics figures have revealed, weakening the country’s position in Brexit talks.
The revision of UK national accounts, the ONS “Blue Book”, shows that the country no longer has a net reserve of foreign assets, and therefore no safety margin while talks with the European Union reach a critical point.
The half a trillion pounds that has gone missing is equivalent to 25 per cent of GDP.
Britain’s stock of wealth has dropped from a surplus of £469bn to a net deficit of £22bn.
Meanwhile, investment in the UK by overseas companies and individuals fell from a £120bn surplus in the first half of 2016 to a £25bn deficit over the same period in 2017.
Simon Derrick, The Bank of New York Mellon’s currency strategist, told The Telegraph: “The outflows from the UK began in mid-August.”
He added: “The big buyers are disappearing.”
The figures come just ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s November Budget. Mr Hammond is under pressure to show how the country would cope if we left the EU without a deal.
Also on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting with European Union leaders.
Ms May will meet with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the EU Commission only days after they exit negotiations were deadlocked.