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Saturday 21st April 2012 | 22:00
Ed Balls MP, Labour’s shadow chancellor, speaking ahead of this week’s growth figures for the first quarter of 2012, said:
“In Washington this weekend George Osborne tried to claim that it was right to give £10 billion more to the IMF because Britain is part of the solution to the eurozone’s problems. But the Chancellor is clearly in denial because he has imposed on Britain exactly the same kind of self-defeating extreme austerity that has strangled many eurozone economies. That is why Britain is stagnating while America is growing strongly.
“Not only was last month’s botched Budget deeply unfair, it failed to come up with the plan for jobs and growth Britain desperately needs right now. After flatlining ever since George Osborne’s spending review in 2010, our economy should be growing strongly this year.
“Recent surveys suggest there has been growth of 0.5 per cent in this quarter and the OBR has forecast 0.3 per cent. But after shrinking at the end of last year these forecasts would mean the economy has barely grown at all over the last six months.
“If we’re to get unemployment down and so get the deficit down, we cannot afford such sluggish growth. Already George Osborne is set to borrow an extra £150 billion to pay for the slower growth and higher unemployment his failed policies have delivered.
“We need to see strong and sustained growth this year and next, not just one set of figures artificially inflated by panic buying of petrol at the end of last month. But George Osborne’s economic mistakes mean this is now a slower recovery than even the 1930s depression. And unless he changes course I fear Britain could be set for a lost decade of slow growth – bumping along the bottom while other countries race ahead."