When I landed at Heathrow this morning, I had no idea that I was stepping into a country hurtling towards irrelevance. But if you're looking for the economic future, it apparently isn't here.
According to a new report, the British economy will be hardly worth talking about in a few years. Four years ago, Britannia had the fourth-largest economy in the world. But the Chinese, French and Italians (!) have surpassed it since then, and the country is set to drop out of the biggest top 10 list in business by 2015.
Coming on hard already are Brazil and Russia, which are likely to surpass old Albion in the next couple of years. But mark 2015 as the year the empire strikes back, as India and Canada are poised to take their place in the top 10, and the U.K. in the not top 10.
"Those who are increasingly setting the world agenda have a degree of post-colonial resentment against the British," Douglas McWilliams of the Centre for Economics and Business Research said. Next thing you know, they'll be taking away Britain's permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Now, one could very rightly take issue with any study that shows the Italian economy in anything other than a shambles, but the report comes at a fragile time for the once-mighty United Kingdom, brought low by the economic crisis and by European allies who seem intent on turning London into a provincial backwater.
Not that the country's leaders are doing much to help at the moment. After earlier this year driving many a hedge fund manager into friendlier offshore climes with a big tax increase, the Treasury is considering a one-time windfall tax on investment bankers.
They better get it while they can. It might not be worth levying special taxes on investment bankers in the world's 11th-largest economy (and sinking).
Why it matters if the British economy drops out of top 10 [Telegraph]
UK planned tax on bankers criticised [Times]