Top Stories: UK Narrowly Avoided Recession, Labour Win Large Majority In By-Election
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the UK economy has an "underlying resilience" (Alamy)
The UK economy narrowly avoided recession at the end of last year, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting that economic output in the last three months of 2022 was flat at 0 per cent.
The cost of living crisis has discouraged consumer spending, but as GDP did not reach negative figures, the official definition of ‘recession’ was not met.
Despite avoiding recession, these ONS figures show the economy is stagnating.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told Sky News that avoiding recession showed an “underlying resilience” in the UK economy, despite multifold challenges.
“The fact that we have avoided recession and in fact, we're the fastest growing major country last year, shows there is underlying resilience in the UK economy.
“But we are not out of the woods. Inflation is still much too high, causing pain for families up and down the country.”
Hunt reiterated his top priority as bringing inflation down, adding that if the UK develops its science and technology industries, it could be “one of the most prosperous countries in Europe”.
Shadow Treasury minister Tulip Siddiq appeared on Sky after the Chancellor, but offered a less optimistic view on the ONS data.
“The truth is it's a very bad news story for our country,” she said.
“We do have huge potential, but I am really worried looking at the figures today. We may have technically avoided recession, but the economy has been stagnant for the best part of last year.
“At the moment there's no plan for growth from the Conservatives. They've had 10 plans for growth since 2010. They've had four plans for growth in this Parliament alone, and yet it's achieved nothing.”
The UK is the only country in the G7 group that has not recovered its economy to pre-Covid levels.
Labour wins by-election with 10 per cent swing
The newest Labour MP, Ashley Dalton, has held the seat of West Lancashire with a 10 per cent swing of votes to the Labour Party.
The by-election was called after MP Rosie Cooper resigned last autumn to move into a new role in the NHS.
Ashley Dalton won the seat early on Friday morning with 14,068 votes, while Conservative candidate Mike Prendergast received 5,742 votes.
The by-election saw a 10 per cent swing to Labour and nearly 11 per cent away from the Tories.
After her victory was announced, Dalton said: “Tonight the people of West Lancashire constituency have spoken on behalf of the country.
“They’ve sent a message to this Conservative government: they do not have confidence in them to govern or the Prime Minister to lead.
Speaking to Sky News, shadow Treasury minister Tulip Siddiq praised Dalton, saying: “We're very proud of her. I heard her on the radio.
“It sounds like the first thing she's going to do when she gets into Parliament is fight for the children's A&E, so I think the government has to realise she's a force to be reckoned with.”
Dominic Raab admits he has "high standards" but denies bullying
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has said he has “high standards” but denies bullying staff, in an interview with the Telegraph.
The justice secretary has been hit with multiple allegations of bullying his staff, and an investigation is being conducted into his behaviour, calling into question whether he will keep his role in government.
“I’m confident I have behaved professionally at all times,” he said. “And I will engage with the inquiry, and of course I would not want to say anything that prejudiced it.”
However, a former senior civil servant recently described his experience of working with Raab to the BBC’s Newsnight as “nasty and difficult”.
He accused Raab of “hard staring at you, you know like cold fury” and said: “It was pretty sinister – and raising his voice. He would make examples of very senior members of staff in front of more junior members and vice-versa".
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