Labour accuse Rishi Sunak of ‘out of touch victory lap’ after UK exits recession

Rishi Sunak  (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)

Labour have accused Rishi Sunak of being out of touch and performing a “victory lap” after it emerged the UK was out of recession.

Mr Sunak claimed that “things are starting to feel better” hours after figures showed the economy had grown by 0.6 per cent over the first three months of this year.

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper labelled the Conservatives as "out of touch" for celebrating.

She told Sky News: "The Government seems to think we should be grateful for the fact that we are no longer in recession and have low growth instead.

"I think this still reflects the fact that working people are still worse off than they were 14 years ago, that people are still paying more on their mortgages, prices are still much higher and actually people are feeling really squeezed.”

She added: "The idea of the Conservatives trying to do a victory lap on all of this and expecting everyone to think: 'It's all wonderful and we've never had it so good,' just shows how out of touch they are."

Rishi Sunak  (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Sunak insisted that confidence in the economy was growing as he visited a business facility in Eynsham, Oxfordshire.

Speaking to Siemens staff, he said the UK had “undoubtedly” had a difficult couple of years.

But he added: “Actually now things are starting to feel better.

"Confidence is returning to the economy and the country, and I hope that you're starting to feel that too."

Economists had predicted there would be a smaller improvement for first quarter of this year, of 0.4 per cent.

The figures are the strongest quarterly growth since the end of 2021.

The economy had been in what is known as a technical recession after official statistics showed declines of 0.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2023 and 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter.

It followed rising inflation and interest rates that heaped pain on millions of mortgage borrowers, alonsgide sky high energy bills.

This led to a fall in spending habits, hitting things like the housing hard.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper (Sky News)
Labour’s Yvette Cooper (Sky News)

But the latest figures show an improvement in consumer spending, as well as resilience across retail stores, pubs and restaurants.

Earlier this week Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said he was “optimistic that things are moving in the right direction”, with inflation expected to drop to the 2 per cent target rate within months.

Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said: "This Conservative Government crashed the economy and sent mortgages spiralling. If Rishi Sunak thinks hard-hit households will be celebrating today, he is even more out of touch than we thought."