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Business chief warns over economy

The UK faces more belt-tightening and "real austerity" to achieve sustainable economic growth, according to a business leader.

John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said Chancellor George Osborne had "bought time" on restoring growth.

He told the BCC's annual conference: "Contrary to popular opinion, we haven't really seen austerity in the way it has been applied to many countries around the eurozone, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland in particular.

"The next stage of debt reduction will require more belt-tightening, possibly even real austerity in some quarters."

Mr Longworth said "deep, lasting and profound structural reform" was needed to achieve growth.

"I have said it before and I cannot repeat it enough - achieving sustainable great growth should be and must be the number one priority of any government, and our political class needs to be more economically literate and business- orientated."

Mr Longworth said Britain was now a "niche economy" in the world, with just 3% of global GDP.

"But our political class have not yet fully recognised and capitalised on this. They are still playing the power politics of the age of empires rather than taking their cues from the earlier merchant, trader nation that was the historic bedrock of our prosperity."

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