Chancellor hit by GDP slump

By Andrew Grice, Russell Lynch

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Photo / AP.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Photo / AP.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was under intense pressure to change course after worse-than-expected official figures showed the country's economy shrank by 0.7 per cent between April and June.

Liberal Democrats called for a "Plan A plus" to stimulate growth and one Liberal Democrat peer called for the Chancellor to be sacked. There was little attempt to disguise the Conservatives' gloom over statistics showing that gross domestic product fell for a third consecutive quarter, plunging Britain into the longest double-dip recession for more than 50 years.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said: "Budget discipline is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for recovery and for rebalancing the economy. We also need policies to stimulate long-term growth."

He said the Government had produced plans to inject some life into the banking system, supporting major infrastructure projects, but added: "No doubt there will have to be more."

Cable declined to endorse the call by his close ally Lord Oakeshott for Osborne be ousted from the Treasury. The peer told BBC Radio 4: "George Osborne has got no business experience. He has never worked outside politics. He is doing surprisingly well for a Chancellor on work experience. But really in a torrid time like this, I think we do need absolutely the best people available."

David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, said: "This is the nail in the coffin of the Chancellor's credibility. The part-time Chancellor and his advisers should be put out to pasture. This is the most inept Chancellor for 50 years."

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said: "If these figures don't make the Chancellor wake up and change course, then I don't know what will. We need a Plan B now to get the economy moving again and radical reforms to set Britain on a new course for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity."

Prime Minister David Cameron, whose aides dismissed speculation that Osborne might be moved, admitted the figures were disappointing.

Britain's manufacturers and builders saw their deepest slump for more than three years, with even the dominant services sector slipping into decline as the eurozone's debt crisis sapped confidence.Independent

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