A triumphant Daily Express, which urged its readers to vote for Brexit, is claiming the decision to leave the EU has already provided a welcome boost to the UK economy in the shape of soaring house prices and a bumper month of loans from mortgage providers (right).
"Banks and building societies recorded their strongest figures for the month of June for eight years as they handed over £20.7bn of home loans."
The Express’s sources are lending data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders and house price data from Hometrack, both of which the Express claims reveal a post-Brexit boom.
"The great Northern cities of Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds – where millions of people voted Leave in June’s referendum to exit the EU – are leading the way," reports the Express.
For the record, it should be noted Manchester (60.4%), Liverpool (58.1%) and Leeds (50.3%) all voted by a majority to Remain and Leave voters across the three cities totalled 357,566, rather than the “millions” the Express claims. But let’s not worry about that. The greater deception here is that the data relates to money released to borrowers during June – but typically applied for and even approved weeks or months earlier - meaning the outcome of the EU referendum, announced on 24 June, will have had no bearing on the data.
Even then, the data is not necessarily a sign of universal confidence among home owners, even before the result was known. As the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ (CML) press release - from which the Express cherry-picked the headline figures - points out, a lot of lending is being driven "more by remortgaging and less by house purchases".
In fact, CML's press release also cautions that "the result of the EU referendum is likely to affect the housing market", citing "considerable uncertainty" and "buyers and sellers [waiting] to get a clearer idea of where we might be headed".
And what about the soaring house prices? Those claims are based on a year-on-year comparison with June 2015. So again, the Hometrack data relates almost entirely to life before Brexit. And, as with the CML data there are actually reasons to be cautious. While the year-on-year figures look healthy there were signs of a slow-down month-on-month across the country.
As Hometrack itself notes, in less bullish terms than the Express:
“It is still very early days to assess the true impact of the EU referendum vote on activity and house prices. Hometrack's view…remains that sales volumes are likely to slow and price growth will moderate over the second half of the year.”
It seems the Express is clutching at straws in an effort to paint Brexit in a positive light.