Britain and the United States will grow faster than any of their partners in the G7 group of rich nations this year, Chancellor Gordon Brown claimed.
In an interview yesterday, he compared the performance of Britain and the US favourably with counterparts in continental Europe.
"We've got a recession in Italy, we've got low growth in Germany, we've got a downturn in France," he said, adding: "Britain is continuing to grow."
In his March budget, the Chancellor predicted that the British economy would grow by 3-3.5 per cent this year, although many analysts believe he is being over optimistic.
But be backed his forecast, saying: "If you look at what has happened in the last week alone, inflation has come in lower than target, employment is seen to be rising again, retail sales were higher than people expected."
Official data last week showed British retail sales unexpectedly rose in April but the annual rate slipped to its weakest in two years and economists cautioned that the overall trend remained weak.
Policymakers have highlighted the risk of slowing household spending dragging down the wider British economy and warned the downturn could be more than just a temporary soft patch.