News last Friday of the UK’s exit from recession in the first quarter prompted an utterly bizarre, but not at all surprising, reaction from the Chancellor and Prime Minister.

Jeremy Hunt declared the data from the Office for National Statistics, which showed 0.6% quarter-on-quarter growth in gross domestic product in the opening three months of this year, “are proof that the economy is returning to full health for the first time since the pandemic”.

If this is “full health”, or anywhere near it, we really should worry.

Rishi Sunak, for his part, declared on social media platform X last Friday: “The economy has turned a corner. Today's news proves that. We know things are still tough for many people, but the plan is working, and we must stick to it.”

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This was accompanied by a glitzy graphic video declaring “the economy is growing”, with all the letters in capitals. Eventually the letters in “economy” became gradually taller, going left to right.

If this is a plan “working”, we should also be deeply concerned.

And Mr Sunak did not stop there.

We also had an arty video of the Prime Minister on X, including previous clips in which he said “grow the economy”. This was accompanied by the message: “GDP is up. That is good news for everyone.”

Just in case anyone missed it the first time, this post also declared: “We know things are still tough for many people, but our plan for the economy is working, and we must stick to it.”

Okay, so he mixed it up a tiny bit by saying “our plan for the economy”, rather than just “the plan”, but it was essentially just a repetition.

It always seems with the ruling Tories that they believe that just saying things over and over again will make them true, or perhaps the hope is just that people will be convinced something is real if they hear it often enough.

Thankfully, there were plenty of economists around to provide an objective view of what is going on with the UK economy.

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That said, ordinary households the length and breadth of the UK would surely not need anyone to confirm to them that the economy is not “returning to full health” as Mr Hunt claims. These households have been laid low by the cost of living crisis. They have also been hammered by the impact of the Conservatives’ hard Brexit on the economy and living standards, and will continue to be weighed down by this, whether they realise this or want to acknowledge it or not.

Suren Thiru, economics director at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, last Friday called the UK’s exit from recession a “hollow victory” and observed “the big picture remains one of an economy struggling with stagnation”.

He declared: “The economy could struggle to kick on further in the second quarter as the boost to people’s incomes from weaker inflation is partly curtailed by renewed caution to spend and invest, amid higher unemployment and ongoing political uncertainty.”

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research think-tank described the move of gross domestic product into positive territory in the first quarter as “encouraging” but observed: “The UK economy has largely flatlined following the initial stages of post-pandemic recovery. To escape the low-growth trend into a new and sustained era of high output growth requires structural changes and public investment.”

This does not really sound like “full health”, does it Mr Hunt?

And the NIESR described a “pre-election gloom” in its recent UK economic outlook report.

The 0.6% rise in UK GDP in the first quarter reported last Friday by the ONS was greater than the 0.4% increase forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

It followed a 0.3% decline in GDP in the final three months of 2023. GDP fell by 0.1% in the third quarter of last year.

GDP per head, following seven consecutive quarters without growth, finally showed an increase in the first quarter, of 0.4%. However, crucially, it was 0.7% lower than in the same quarter a year earlier.

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Mr Hunt showed a smidgeon of self-awareness by acknowledging “it has been a difficult few years”. Perhaps we should be grateful for that, given the Tories’ incredibly bizarre view on all things economic.

The Chancellor told BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme: "For families who have been having a really tough time, I think they can see that the very difficult decisions that we've taken in order to get the economy back on its feet after the pandemic, after the energy shock, are beginning to pay off and we need to see them through."

There is nothing like not taking responsibility for the grim situation in the UK.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has some baffling views these days on Brexit but her observation last week that “after 14 years of economic chaos” under the Tories, “working people are still worse off” was bang on the money.

The austerity programme kicked off by the Conservatives way back in 2010, when Mr Hunt was part of the David Cameron and George Osborne administration, has had a crushing effect on the UK economy and on millions of households.

And the Conservatives delivered a hard Brexit which saw the country lose the huge benefits of free movement of people between the UK and European Economic Area, exacerbating skills and labour shortages greatly. This folly also ended frictionless trade between the UK and its largest trading partner.

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What is more, to go back to the words of Mr Hunt, there has never been the sense that the decisions were “difficult “for the ruling Conservatives. Rather, they were entirely in keeping with the current vintage of Tories’ dismal ideology.

The decisions were undoubtedly difficult to fathom. And they have certainly created difficulties for households. However, in short, they were in essence utterly foolish and entirely unnecessary decisions.

The Tories, however, remain determined to point the finger at everything other than themselves when it comes to the UK economy’s woes.

They will wax lyrical about the coronavirus pandemic’s effect, and talk about the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but they remain entirely unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their grave economic policy errors.

This is no surprise at all, but their story is looking increasingly ridiculous, and that is saying something.