UK economic optimism soars, boosting Cameron's political capital

LONDON Thu Feb 6, 2014 6:51pm GMT

Shoppers are reflected in a shop window as they walk along Oxford Street on the last Saturday before Christmas, in London December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Shoppers are reflected in a shop window as they walk along Oxford Street on the last Saturday before Christmas, in London December 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - Optimism about Britain's economy has reached its highest level since 1997 thanks to an unexpectedly strong recovery, boosting Prime Minister David Cameron's economic credentials ahead of a 2015 election, a poll showed on Thursday.

The poll, by Ipsos Mori, found one in four people trusted Cameron more than other political party leaders to manage the $2.5 trillion (1.54 trillion pound) economy, the sixth largest in the world.

By contrast, only 20 percent of those polled said they trusted Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour party, to look after the economy.

On the issue of economic trust, Ipsos Mori said Cameron had increased his lead over Miliband to 22 percentage points from 14 points in May last year.

Thursday's poll found half of the 1,012 respondents believed the state of the economy would improve in the next year, while 24 percent thought it would get worse, giving a net economic optimism index score of +26, the highest since 1997.

Britain's economy has staged an unexpectedly strong recovery

after a long period of stagnation, with official data last month showing it grew last year at its fastest rate since the 2007 financial crisis.

The recovery has been a boon for Britain's two-party coalition government, though Cameron's Conservatives still lag behind Labour by up to seven percentage points in polls of overall voting intentions ahead of a national election in 2015.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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