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Coalition minister claims he can see 'green shoots' of recovery
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, has become the first Coalition minister to say he can see the "green shoots" of economic recovery.

Mr Davey said that while Britain was not returning to the "boom times", he believes that growing exports and public investment in infrastructure is "beginning to make a difference".

His suggestion that Britain's economy is emerging from the economic downturn could prove controversial.

In 2009, Baroness Vadera, the then business minister and a close ally of Gordon Brown, was forced to apologise after claiming she could see "green shoots".

Her comments came at a time when thousands of job losses were announced and the FTSE 100 index fell by 5 per cent. She later said she was "sorry" if her comments had been misunderstood.

Earlier this week figures published by the ONS showed that unemployment had increased to 2.52million while average earnings growth was at its lowest level on record.

Earlier this week the National Audit Office raised doubts about the viability of the government’s plans to invest in high speed rail and claims that it would help stimulate economic recovery.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Question Time Extra programme, Mr Davey said: "It's been a slow thing, it's been much slower than we had wanted, but I think we are beginning to turn a corner.

"I think we can [see the green shoots]. We can't be complacent, far from it. There's really difficult times there.

"I mean trying to deal with the fiscal deficit, the borrowings we were left, given the global economic forces, but we've been steadily, slowly reforming the British economy."

He admitted, however, that he was not an "economic forecaster". He said: "I read the signals that you do. I listen to people like the Governor of the Bank of England. No one thinks that we're going back to boom times ok?”

However, there were also signs for encouragement after the number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by 7,300 in April, more than expected.

Mr Davey’s message contrasted with that of Diane Abbott, a Labour MP and shadow minister. She said her party could "capitalise" on public anger about the behaviour of bankers.

“If there was to be an economic recovery, pigs would fly. We are going to look at the collapse of George Osborne’s promises," she told the Daily Politics on BBC2.

"I think that as the public has to watch, in slow motion, the collapse of Osborne’s economic plans and as people understand the reality of these benefit cuts, I know benefit cuts are very popular now, that’s because they think it’s applying to someone else, as they understand the reality, I think the country will move to Labour.”

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