Britain’s stuttering economy is likely to pick up momentum over the next two years, but only if the government maintains tariff-free trade with the EU, the CBI said in its outlook for 2020.

According to the business lobby group’s latest economic forecast, GDP growth for over the next two years is set to remain at 1.2% in 2020 before picking up to 1.8% in 2021.

The modest rebound depends on the next government negotiating an “ambitious trade deal” with the EU that preserves much of the current arrangements and eliminates Brexit uncertainty, it said.

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist, said the forecast was based on the UK quitting the EU in two months on 31 January. The CBI’s outlook also assumed the government would provide “a clear line of sight to an ambitious trade deal,” by next summer.

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