South West Surrey MP and Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has hailed new figures showing the UK narrowly avoided falling into recession in 2022.
The Office for National Statistics December GDP figures, released on Friday, show the UK economy saw zero growth between October and December.
This is despite a 0.5 per cent fall in economic output during December, partly due to strike action.
The figures also show the UK was the fastest growing economy in the G7 – a group of seven of the world's largest advanced economies consisting of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom – in 2022.
But, despite the better-than-expected ONS report for December, the UK is also still the only G7 country in which the economy is smaller than pre-pandemic levels.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “The fact the UK was the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year, as well as avoiding a recession, shows our economy is more resilient than many feared.
“However, we are not out the woods yet, particularly when it comes to inflation.
“If we stick to our plan to halve inflation this year, we can be confident of having amongst the best prospects for growth of anywhere in Europe.”
The Bank of England still expects the UK to enter recession this year – but predicts the recession will be "shallower" than previously predicted.
The International Monetary Fund is predicting that 90 per cent of advanced economies will see a decline in growth in 2023. Germany, Italy and France saw similarly weak growth in the fourth quarter of 2022.
In a column for this week's Herald, Mr Hunt also pointed out that since 2010, the UK has grown faster than France, Japan and Italy, and since the EU referendum, the UK has grown at about the same rate as Germany.
Mr Hunt added cumulative growth over the 2022-24 period is predicted to be higher than Germany and Japan, and at a similar rate to the US.
And he said the government is maintaining record levels of capital investment – £600bn over the next five years – including investment in critical infrastructure like Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and Sizewell C, and safeguarding the highest ever R&D budget.
However, Labour and the Liberal Democrats took a less-optimistic view of the latest ONS figures, with Rachel Reeves, Labour's shadow chancellor, telling the BBC they show the economy "is stuck in the slow lane".
She added: "We must bring in urgent measures to prevent yet more harm from the cost of living crisis, using a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants to stop the energy price cap going up in April so that people have more money in their pockets."
Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney said: "Britain is dangling on over the edge of a recession after months of economic vandalism and chaos in government.
"The blame for these gloomy figures lies squarely with the government, who have botched budgets, failed to tackle inflation and have no plan for growth."