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Tories blame Labour for weak growth

OPPOSITION parties hit out at the government’s handling of the economy yesterday, after Britain’s GDP grew at an anaemic 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter – much less than economists had expected.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said that the country should be “confident but cautious” after exiting its longest recession on record, adding that he was sticking by his 2010 growth forecasts of between 1 and 1.5 per cent.

But while shadow chancellor George Osborne welcomed the return to growth, he said the figures were “very weak” and showed the government had “left us badly prepared for the recession and badly prepared for the recovery”.

He added: “We urgently need a new model of economic growth that includes a credible deficit reduction plan that keeps mortgage rates low, creates jobs and doesn’t choke off recovery.”

And shadow chief secretary to the treasury Philip Hammond said the figures were “rather disappointing”, adding “the message we should be taking away is that the solution can’t be more borrowing and more public spending”.

Vince Cable, Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the British economy was in a “very, very fragile state”.

The Labour party, which is trailing the Tories in the polls, had hoped that the end of the recession would mark a revival in its fortunes after voters credited it with rescuing the economy.