Britain's economic performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been stronger than previously thought, with faster growth than Germany or France, according to revisions to official data released on Friday.

The Office for National Statistics said Britain's economy in the second quarter of 2023 was 1.8% larger than in the final quarter of 2019, the last full quarter before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This represented a revision from the most recent previous ONS estimate, on Aug. 11, that the economy was still 0.2% smaller than before the pandemic, which had placed it at the bottom of the table among major advanced economies.

An upward revision to the size of Britain's economy had been widely expected, after the ONS published preliminary revisions on Sept. 1 suggesting the economy was already 0.6% larger than its pre-pandemic size in the final quarter of 2021.

Britain's relative economic performance since the pandemic and its departure from the European Union has been a focus of political debate, especially with a national election likely next year.

Britain's growth of 1.8% over the period compares with growth of 1.7% in France and 0.2% in Germany, but trails far behind the 6.1% expansion seen in the United States.

Recent quarters' growth is also lacklustre by historic standards, and many households have been far more affected by the soaring cost of living which accelerated after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

British gross domestic product in the second quarter of 2023 was confirmed at 0.2% higher than the quarter before, in line with a previous estimate, while first-quarter growth was revised up to 0.3% from 0.1%.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a reading showing quarterly growth of 0.2%, unchanged from an initial estimate published on Aug. 11. (Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce; editing by William James)