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UK dismisses economic ‘gloom’, eyes Brexit boost

Britain’s finance minister will dismiss “gloom” over the country’s recession-threatened economy and vow to tap into Brexit opportunities to bolster growth in a key speech on Friday.

Jeremy Hunt will lay out his growth plan in London’s City finance district, following recent criticism from the business community, and insist that the nation is not in long-term decline.

“Declinism about Britain was wrong in the past — and it is wrong today,” Hunt will say, according to excerpts released by the Treasury.

“Some of the gloom is based on statistics that do not reflect the whole picture.”

The Bank of England and the UK government’s own fiscal watchdog, however, believe that the economy has already entered recession on fallout from rampant consumer price inflation.

The finance chief will Friday outline how Britain will benefit from “freedoms” as a result of its exit two years ago from the European Union, after voting to leave in 2016.

“Like every G7 country, our growth was slower in the years after the financial crisis than the years before it. But since 2010, the UK has grown faster than France, Japan and Italy.

“Since the Brexit referendum, we have grown at about the same rate as Germany.”

He will add: “If we look further ahead, the case for declinism becomes weaker still. The UK is poised to play a leading role in Europe and across the world in the growth sectors which will define this century.”

Hunt, whose official title is chancellor of the exchequer, will oversee a strategy aimed at boosting poor productivity and focused on key sectors including digital technology, green industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and creative industries.

Hunt, a key member of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government, will add that he offers a plan for “long term prosperity”.

“Our plan for growth is a plan built on the freedoms which Brexit provides. It is a plan to raise productivity,” he will say.

“It is a plan to use the proceeds of growth to support our public services at home, to support businesses in the new low-carbon economy and to support democracy abroad.

“It is the right course for our country and the role in the world to which we aspire.”