LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economic growth slowed more than expected in the final three months of last year, but with annual growth still at its fastest since 2007 the data gave ammunition to both sides of the political divide heading into May’s election.
Tuesday’s data showed some loss of momentum. Growth in the third quarter fell to 0.5 per cent from 0.7 per cent in the third, slower than the 0.6 per cent growth most private-sector economists had expected in a Reuters poll.
But for the year as a whole, the economy grew by 2.6 per cent, the Office for National Statistics said, up from 1.7 per cent in 2013 and putting it on track to have been the world’s fastest-growing major advanced economy last year.
While most countries have not yet reported 2014 growth data, Britain’s is ahead of International Monetary Fund estimates for other big developed nations, a fillip for British Prime Minister David Cameron who faces a national election on May 7.
“The recovery is on track and our plan is protecting Britain from the economic storm – now is not the time to abandon that plan and return Britain to economic chaos,” finance minister George Osborne said after the data.