First quarter figures today show that the United Kingdom’s economic output fell below expectations to 0.3%.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed a slowest quarterly growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in more than two years, while the 0.3% figure was also half that of the previous quarter’s growth.
While the service sector grew at a rate of 0.5%, that was countered by a decline of 1.6% in the construction industry – although a year-on-year expansion of 2.4% means that the UK remains the fastest growing economy of the G7 countries.
The figures nevertheless serves as something of a blow to the former coalition parties, who have used the economic recovery as a lynchpin of their election campaigns.
Ed Miliband’s plan to end non-dom status may have won the support of Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne, but George Osborne was quick to criticise the proposal.
Mr Osborne said the Opposition’s proposals amounted to “tinkering around the edges” and not a complete ban.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said complete abolishment of the status could cost Britain hundreds of millions of pounds in lost tax revenues and investment, or they are just adjusting the rules on the period to which people can be non-dom.
He said: “This confusion is another reminder of why they can’t be trusted with our economy.”
Hitting non-doms with higher annual charges for exploiting the system is the “right approach”, according to Mr Osborne, although this effectively makes it only worthwhile for the wealthiest of people.
Nicola Sturgeon has again challenged Miliband to enter into an anti-austerity alliance with the SNP, whether of not Labour emerge as the larger party after the election.
Writing in today’s Observer, Sturgeon said: “If together our parties have the numbers required after 7 May, and regardless of which is the biggest party, will he and Labour join with us in locking David Cameron out of Downing Street?”
Sturgeon’s offer comes after she categorically denied that she had described Ed Miliband as “not Prime Minister material” in private discussions with the French Ambassador.
Ed Miliband is becoming more popular with the general public, according to a new YouGov poll.
Ahead of tonight’s 7-way debate, YouGov asked the question: “Thinking about the proposed debate between the seven party leaders, who do you expect will perform the best in the debate?”
19% chose David Cameron, and 15% Ed Miliband – with 15% opting for Nigel Farage. However eight days earlier Miliband was on 10%, a marked improvement.
Miliband was also widely praised following an interview on Absolute Radio yesterday, with commenters saying he was funny and engaging.
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has warned voters that by voting UKIP, they will also get Miliband, and if they vote Conservative they will get broadband.
Launching the Conservatives’ London General Election campaign in Mill Hill, Mr Johnson also joked that the Conservatives were the party of “kitchen ownership”, while Labour was the party of “kitchen concealment”.
The mayor also warned that Labour is the most left-wing it has been since the days of former party leader, Michael Foot.
He added that Ed Miliband wanted to take the country back to the 1970s and an “orgy of regulation and state socialism”.