The economy expanded at its fastest rate in four years in the second quarter, bolstering the government’s case that it is strong enough to withstand the austerity measures laid out in the emergency Budget. The Office for National Statistics said that at a preliminary estimate, gross domestic product expanded by 1.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2010 and almost double the consensus 0.6 per cent growth predicted by economists. In the first three months output grew by 0.3 per cent. Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “This is an absolutely incredible growth number, way above all expectations. "The pick-up was widespread across all sectors with service sector activity picking up sharply, manufacturing output humming and the construction sector returning to growth with a vengeance.” The government leapt on the figures as evidence the economy was easily strong enough to cope with its plan to slash the deficit more quickly than Labour had promised. Daily Telegraph, p29