LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Saturday the UK economy will grow more quickly than expected next year, rejecting Conservative suggestions that tough choices and years of hardship were needed to kick-start growth.
Speaking to the right-leaning Daily Telegraph newspaper, Brown forecast strong economic growth over the next 12 months.
Branding the opposition Conservatives "pessimists", he said it is "simply not true" that tough years lie ahead.
Brown also argued that big public spending cuts outlined at the Conservative Party conference earlier this week would only prolong the deep recession.
"If you have a growth policy for Britain, get unemployment down, get the economy moving forward, then Britain can have upgrowth," he said in an interview with the paper.
"I think people have moved closer to our view that Britain is capable of coming back to growth at a higher rate next year than people were originally assuming, and higher rates in the future," he said.
"We've said that the economy will grow by one and a half percent next year and more people are moving towards our position as a result of what they've seen in the economy over the last few months."
In his speech to activists in Manchester, Conservative leader David Cameron, tipped in polls to be Britain's next prime minister, promised voters a brighter future.
But he said they must endure the pain of sharp cuts in public spending first before reaping the benefits.
By contrast, Brown told the paper Cameron's "austerity" policies would spell disaster for the economy and destroy frontline services like health and education. He said the measures proposed were a "recipe for high unemployment".
"(The Tories) are pessimists; they're for an age of austerity, they're for cutting the help, therefore allowing unemployment to continue to rise," Brown said.
"They're wrong about the recovery and wrong about growth. This week we've seen no policy from the Conservatives to get Britain growing again."
The Telegraph said Brown's upbeat assessment of the likely rate of recovery appears at odds with the Treasury's own forecast for annual growth of 1.25 percent, and predictions by the IMF and CBI of 0.9 percent growth.
Separately a poll by YouGov for Britain's best-selling Sun newspaper found that the Conservative party had held on to its 14 percent point advantage over Labour, giving Cameron a sizeable 100-seat majority if reflected at a general election.
The poll also found that Cameron's personal popularity had been given a boost by his conference speech on Thursday.
The YouGov poll found 52 percent of voters thought he was doing a good job as party leader, up from 42 percent last month.