Brown under fire as US recession ends

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Gordon Brown's claim that Britain was "better placed" than other wealthy countries to beat the economic downturn returned to haunt him yesterday as the US recession officially ended.

The Conservatives were quick to point out that this meant that Britain alone, of the major economies, is still officially in recession. Figures for the third quarter of 2009 showed that the US economy, where the current crisis began, has at last returned to growth. China, Japan, France and Germany have also returned to economic growth, but Britain's economy shrank again during the same quarter.

"These figures are very good news for the world economy, but Britain now stands out as the only major economy still in recession," the shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, said yesterday. "Gordon Brown's claim that we were 'best placed' now lies in tatters. His recession plan has failed. The rest of the world is moving on and we are left behind."

The good news from America came just 24-hours after an angry clash over the British economy in the Commons, when the Tory leader, David Cameron, challenged Mr Brown to admit that he had not succeeded in abolishing "boom and bust" in the economy. Mr Brown forecast that the recession would be over before the end of 2009.

US returns to growth in third quarter Business, page 51 plus Editorial, page 42