Economy

Theresa May's government expects to agree a Brexit deal by 21 November

Theresa May's government expects to agree a Brexit deal by 21 November

As Article 50 had not yet been triggered, Brexit was at least two years ago and its nature was highly uncertain.

The central bank assumes a relatively stable path for the pound over the next three years, a crucial determinant for inflation.

Foster said: "Goodness, we have been here on a number of occasions and I think we are close to a deal that will work for Northern Ireland, that is what we want".

The BOE also noted that the situation is now different from just after the 2016 referendum, when inflation was below target and demand was weaker than supply.

"November's statement makes it pretty clear the Bank of England would like to be hiking rates further", James Smith, an economist at bank ING, said. And it could add stimulus by buying corporate bonds.

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But BoE Governor Mark Carney also warned all bets were off if next March brought a "disruptive" European Union departure.

"I can not emphasise strongly enough that the Prime Minister feels absolutely committed to her pledge not to have under any circumstances a hard border on the island of Ireland", Mr Lidington said.

European Union leaders had mooted a special summit in mid-November to seal the Brexit deal, but warned earlier this month this would not happen without more progress.

The Labour frontbench, meanwhile, say the party to vote down the deal and push for a general election, saying the agreement will not pass their "six tests" and could place jobs and the economy at risk.

Such a deal would give the United Kingdom the same level of access to the European Union as major USA and Japanese firms, while however tying it to many European Union finance rules for years to come.

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Though households have weathered the uncertainty and continued to spend thanks to an increase in wages, the uncertainty has hit business investment.

Over in the U.S., the dollar has fallen against the pound and most other currency peers, primarily because of current GBP strength.

The bank said there has been little evidence of significant precautionary stock-building ahead of Brexit, though it said it's possible that could occur over the rest of this year and early next if concerns about Brexit persist.

The slightly hawkish bias compared with August is tempered by the fact that the forecasts are based on an assumption for a smooth Brexit that may not come to pass.

Those forecasts included downgraded GDP growth for both 2018 and 2019, with 2018 growth now expected at 1.3% compared to 1.4% at its previous forecast, and 1.7% in 2019 compared to 1.8% previously. Under this scenario, interest rates would rise by a quarter percentage point per year over the period.

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Asked by the Irish Independent whether the United Kingdom could finalise a deal next Tuesday, Mr Lidington said: "I've been in politics long enough to know that if I give you a prediction or hype up a particular meeting for when a deal is likely to be clinched, it's bound to the wrong".