Britain recorded its biggest fall in economic output in more than 300 years in 2020 when it faced the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as a larger decline than any other major economy, updated official figures showed on Monday.
Gross domestic product fell by 11% in 2020, the Office for National Statistics said. This was a bigger drop than any of the ONS’s previous estimates and the largest fall since 1709, according to historical data hosted by the Bank of England.
The ONS’s initial estimates had already suggested that in 2020 Britain suffered its biggest fall in output since the “Great Frost” of 1709.
Britain’s economy bounced back sharply last year and recovered its pre-pandemic size in November 2021. But fast-rising inflation means the Bank of England expects the economy will slip back into recession later this year.
UK’s rise as a ‘world power’
For much of its history, UK or ‘Great’ Britain had a negligible contribution to world GDP. But that changed once England, following in footsteps of other European nations like Portugal and Spain, formed the East India Company (EIC) in 1600 and gave it the charter for exploitation of trade with Asia, particularly the spice trade with Bharat. After winning trading concessions from the Mughals, the monopolistic trading company gradually became involved in politics and acted as an agent of British imperialism in Bharat.
After winning the battle of Plassey against Bengal’s Mughal Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah in 1757, the EIC’s rampant abuse of trade privileges morphed into open loot, plunder and inhuman atrocities on Bharatiyas. This is the period when Britain started rising as an economic power.
Men like Robert Clive amassed vast fortunes through brutal exploitation of Bharat, and engineered British colonial rule that ultimately left 150 million dead (through famine, wars, persecution) and drained $45 trillion of Bharat’s wealth. British colonial exploitation in other parts of the world and their slave trade in Africans & Bharatiya indentured laborers further bolstered the nation’s economic status as a ‘world power’.
Bharat’s contribution to world economy sunk from ~ 25% in 1750 to under 5% by the time the British were forced out in 1947. In contrast, Britain’s global economic share shot up to over 15% at the peak of its colonial empire in the 19th-20th century.