Guns and butter: UK's weapons and ammunition turnover drops by 30pc

Peter Spence
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A visitor tries a German assault rifle at a defence and security exhibition in London (Source: Getty)

The trade-off in British manufacturing is clear. Less guns, more everything else.

Turnover of UK weapons and ammunition production has dropped by 29.6 per cent in the three months to March on the same period last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That's the biggest such fall in turnover seen across any of the categories on which the ONS reports. Total turnover for manufacturing in the UK has risen by 5.3 per cent in the same period.

The data goes towards making up one half of the classic guns versus butter model. It's a popular illustration of trade-offs, taught in classroom economics worldwide.

With limited resources available, you have to choose what to produce with them. Will it be more defense goods, like guns, or more civilian ones, like butter?

The monthly series for weapons and ammunition turnover only goes as far back as January 2012, but has sloped gently downwards since then.

But there's one huge problem with looking at it in this way. Unlike much of the data you'll see from the ONS, this information isn't seasonally adjusted, and is prone to huge volatility as a result of the small number of deals that occur within the sector.

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