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The Associated Press November 29, 2011, 7:58AM ET

UK economic forecast downgraded

The British government has revealed a gloomier outlook about the economy, but says the pain will be much worse if eurozone countries do not solve their sovereign debt crisis.

Treasury chief George Osborne said Tuesday that the Office for Budget Responsibility expects Britain's GDP to grow by 0.9 percent this year, down from its March forecast of 1.7 percent.

For next year, the OBR predicts growth of 0.7 percent, sharply down from the 2.5 percent prediction in March.

Osborne said the forecast assumes there will be a solution of the eurozone turmoil. If not, he said, "then the OBR warn that there could be a much worse outcome for Britain."

The Treasury chief said he still expects to meet his deficit-reduction target by 2015.

The British forecast was more optimistic than Monday's update from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, which predicted that Britain was sliding into a mild recession which would continue through the first three months of next year.

Osborne appealed to unions representing 2 million public sector workers to cancel a one-day strike set for Wednesday.

"Call off the strikes tomorrow. Come back to the table," Osborne appealed to the unions, which are angry about proposed changes to pensions.

Osborne stressed that Britain is, to a great extent, at the mercy of developments on the continent.

"Much of Europe now appears to be heading into a recession caused by a chronic lack of confidence in the ability of countries to deal with their debts," Osborne said in Britain's House of Commons.

"We will do whatever it takes to protect Britain from this debt storm while doing all we can to build the foundations of future growth."

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