THE title line of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’, performed by Barbara Streisand in 1964 musical ‘Funny Girl’, came to mind yesterday morning ahead of the Bank of England’s decision on interest rates at noon.

The Monetary Policy Committee vote was viewed as a close call. And the latest forecasts and words of wisdom accompanying the announcement of the rate decision were always going to be particularly interesting, given the MPC meeting was taking place just ahead of Brexit day.

The MPC did not move rates, although it left the door open to such a reduction depending on how things develop. What it did do was reduce its UK growth forecasts significantly for this year, 2021 and 2022. And Bank Governor Mark Carney, overseeing his last MPC meeting before he is succeeded by Andrew Bailey in March, observed “overall UK activity likely stagnated in the final quarter of 2019”.

Mr Carney, who has told things as they are throughout the Brexit debate in a calm and reasoned way while at times attracting the ire of Leave-minded politicians for so doing, was as usual matter-of-fact yesterday about the state of the UK economy and the outlook.

However, on the day before the Brexiters parade us, whether we like it or not, out of the European Union, the rainclouds hanging heavy over the UK economy were plain to see in the Bank’s latest forecasts and in Mr Carney’s observations.

Mr Carney said: “In the UK, entrenched Brexit-related uncertainties added to the global drag on domestic activity. Last year, the UK economy grew at its weakest pace since 2010 as business investment remained subdued despite having grown barely at all in the prior few years and households began to rebuild savings and cut back on durable spending despite the resilient labour market.”

Nothing to celebrate there.

However, many of the Brexiters will not care. Their dislike of EU membership is driven by ideological factors. We have seen so, so much anti-immigration sentiment among Brexit voters over the last few years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to “bear down” on immigration in the final days before the December 12 General Election.

It also seems some Brexiters think they will feel more British if they leave the EU.

So the economic realities of Brexit, and by extension the impact on living standards, do not seem to be a priority for many Leavers at this stage.

The MPC yesterday held UK base rates at 0.75% in a seven-to-two vote. MPC members Michael Saunders and Jonathan Haskel, who voted unsuccessfully for a quarter-point cut in rates in November and December, did so again yesterday.

The Bank of England is now forecasting UK growth of just 0.8% for this year, having projected expansion of 1.2% back in November. It has cut its projection of growth next year to 1.4% from 1.8%, and reduced its forecast of expansion in 2022 from 2% to 1.7%.

These growth rates are all very weak by historical standards. And, crucially, they assume an “orderly transition” to a deep free-trade agreement with the EU by the end of this year. More of that later.

Mr Carney flagged signs of a pick-up in the UK economy in recent weeks, noting survey evidence for January consistent with a quarterly growth rate of 0.2%.

This is not quite as bad as the indications for the fourth quarter of 2019, but it is nevertheless very weak.

And Mr Carney, signalling scope for a rate cut in future if weakness persisted, said: “To be clear, these are still early days. It is less of a case of ‘so far, so good’, than ‘so far, good enough’.”

The Bank Governor noted uncertainty remained high by historical standards and that UK business investment had been “very weak”, going from the strongest to the weakest in the G7 in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Car manufacturing has been among the sectors in focus amid the Brexit maelstrom of the last few years.

Big overseas investors in this sector have sounded many warnings over the implications of the drive by the UK, under the leadership of Theresa May and now Mr Johnson, to leave the European single market. Unfortunately, these have fallen on deaf ears. Heavy job losses through various key decisions by the big car manufacturers should have provided a wake-up call for the UK Government. But there is little sign this has happened.

Figures published yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show UK car production fell by 14.2 per cent in 2019, to 1.303 million units, the lowest since 2010. This was the third consecutive year in which production has fallen.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The fall of UK car manufacturing to its lowest level in almost a decade is of grave concern. Every country in the world wants a successful automotive sector as it is a driver of trade, productivity and jobs. Given the uncertainty the sector has experienced, it is essential we re-establish our global competitiveness and that starts with an ambitious free-trade agreement with Europe, one that guarantees all automotive products can be bought and sold without tariffs or additional burdens.”

He makes a sensible point, in terms of the importance of frictionless trade in limiting the damage of Brexit.

Mr Carney, explaining the Bank of England’s growth forecasts assumed an “orderly transition” to a deep free-trade agreement with the EU at the end of the 11-month transition period following Brexit, noted the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street took Government policy as a given in its projections.

Mr Carney also observed: “We are moving more rapidly to the new relationship with the European Union than we had originally modelled.”

The challenges ahead for the UK Government in terms of it achieving the free-trade agreement it says it desires with our European neighbours surely remain huge. And the signals that have come from Mr Johnson and UK Government ministers seem to highlight the continuing danger of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Johnson has declared he will not extend the transition period beyond the end of this year.

In an interview earlier this month, Chancellor Sajid Javid told the Financial Times: “There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union – and we will do this by the end of the year.”

And then there is Mr Johnson’s “bear down” on immigration pledge.

Mr Carney yesterday highlighted the crucial part that labour supply plays in determining the UK’s growth potential.

Noting low unemployment, he said: “The speed limit of the economy is much lower than it was a few years ago.”

There has already been a plunge in net immigration to the UK from other EU countries in the wake of the Brexit vote. This would seem likely to continue through the transition period.

After that, the Conservatives will be able to fulfil their desire on immigration. This will have grim implications for the UK economy. Pro-Remain Scotland, given its particular demographic factors, will be affected disproportionately by Brexit.

However, given the move to leave the EU seems driven by ideology and not economics, you would not imagine many Brexiters would let any of this rain on their parade tonight.