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Ed Balls MP, Labour's Shadow Chancellor, said in response to first quarter of 2011 growth figures for European Union countries: 

“These figures expose how, since George Osborne’s spending review and VAT rise, Britain’s economy has gone from the economic fast lane to the slow lane.
“As our economy has flatlined with zero growth over the last six months countries like France, Belgium, the Netherlands and even Spain have overtaken us while Germany is powering ahead.
“All these major economies were hit by the global financial crisis and so have a big challenge to get their deficit down and they also face the same high world oil prices as us. But while they are now growing strongly, our recovery has been choked off. In fact the UK economy is still 4 per cent smaller than it was before the global financial crisis hit.  
“We’ve gone from the top end of the economic growth league table to being stuck at the bottom just above Greece and Portugal – countries which have had austerity package after austerity package but are struggling to get their deficits down because they are not growing.
“These figures show the huge risks George Osborne is taking in Britain by making a political choice to cut further and faster than any other major economy in the world. He doesn’t seem to understand that without strong growth and more people in jobs, paying taxes rather than claiming benefit, it’s harder to get the deficit down”. 

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