THE British private sector has contracted at its fastest rate since the aftermath of the Brexit referendum as the UK missed its second deadline to leave the EU, according to new figures.

The economy got smaller in November, data from IHS Markit and CIPS shows.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the UK private sector fell to 48.5, the lowest since July 2016, and down from 50 in October.

Anything below 50 is considered a contraction.

It means that British gross domestic product (GDP) is on course to fall by 0.2% in the fourth quarter of the year, meaning he Bank of England could start to stimulate the economy, experts say.

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Chris Williamson, IHS Markit’s chief business economist, said: “The PMI surveys are not only warning that the underlying trend in the economy is deteriorating markedly, but also that the labour market is cooling.

“The big question will be just how long can the Bank of England hold its nerve in keeping policy unchanged.”

The figures are the first time flash numbers have been released for the UK. These are preliminary figures, a week before the full data is published, leaving room for some improvement.

However, they are unlikely to change dramatically, says David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets.

“I would be shocked if we see a drastic improvement on these figures with the final data,” he said.

It marks the longest stretch of poor figures in a decade, as companies first build up, then use up their Brexit stockpiles as deadlines come and go.

“The service component, which is 75%-80% of the UK economy, was the lowest since July 2016, the aftermath of the EU referendum,” Madden said. “It is clear that things are slowing down.”

He added: “At a time when the UK is supposed to be out of the EU, we’re back at the levels we saw after the referendum.”

Meanwhile, Nationwide Building Society has revealed a 40% plunge in half-year profits, after taking a hit from payment protection insurance and ramping up investment.

The mutual posted pre-tax profits of £309 million for the six months to September 30, down from £516 million a year earlier.

Underlying pre-tax profits dropped 33% to £307 million, down from £460 million a year ago.

It booked a £36 million additional payment protection insurance (PPI) charge for compensation, after a last-minute surge in claims before the August 31 deadline, taking its total bill for the half-year to £52 million.

Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide, said the group continued to “prioritise our members’ interests over short-term profits”.

He said: “Our profits were lower as we invested in meeting the needs of our members, in our service and in our future.”