BRITAIN can recover economically even while the eurozone is still mired in crisis, Danny Alexander has insisted while David Cameron urged UK businesses to take a more German approach to increase their competitiveness.

However, in the wake of a grim Autumn Statement, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury refused to say if it was possible the age of austerity could stretch beyond 2018, when the Coalition now expects the UK's books to be balanced.

This week, the Office for Budget Responsibility, its independent forecaster, painted a grim picture of Britain's economic outlook, insisting a lot rested on what happened in the eurozone.

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The EU is the UK's biggest export market, accounting for 47% of all its exports, the eurozone a little less.

Analysts have suggested Britain's fortunes are so intrinsically linked to Europe that until the eurozone recovers the UK will not. However, Mr Alexander disagreed.

Asked if Britain could recover while the eurozone remained locked in an economic slump, the Highland MP said: "Yes, we can.

"There are a lot of good things about the British economy and the Scottish economy. Clearly, in terms of the quality of our businesses, the energy sector is a great strength for Scotland, we have some very good manufacturing businesses across the country that can do well."

The Chief Secretary insisted that Britons appreciated the scale of the economic problems the country faced as well as the huge task facing the Lib-Con Government to tackle them.

"People understand this country has been through a really difficult situation. A lot of mistakes were made that have to be cleaned up and that takes time."

On Monday, Michael Moore, the Scottish Secretary, will begin a three-day trip to North America to bang the drum for British business.