GROWTH in the Scottish economy exceeded initial expectations between January and March this year and now outstrips the whole of the UK for that period, according to official statistics.

Revised figures show gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2019, representing a marginal increase from the first estimate of 0.5% published in June.

It puts the Scottish economy slightly ahead of the 0.5% UK economic growth for that period.

Compared to the same quarter in 2018, the Scottish economy has grown by 1.5%, revised upwards from 1.4%, but remains behind the UK at 1.8%.

Both Scotland and the UK as a whole grew their economies by 1.4% between 2017 and 2018.

Manufacturing was the main driver behind Scotland’s economic growth in the first quarter of this year, as the sector grew 2.3%, with particularly strong performances in pharmaceuticals and drink.

Construction grew by 0.4% in this period, while output in the services sector rose by 0.2%.

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Growing the economy is a priority for the Scottish Government and these results show the actions we are taking are working.

“Scotland’s economy continues to perform well, with GDP growing faster than the UK during the first quarter of 2019 and unemployment at a near record low.

“The months and years ahead are crucial as we continue to invest in and grow the economy. However, the UK Government’s EU exit plans, and in particular a no-deal Brexit, risks damaging our economy and the future prospects of the people of Scotland.”

He added: “As a responsible Government we are continuing to plan and prepare for all EU exit possibilities but we know that we will not be able to mitigate all of the impacts.

“The Scottish Government has a range of policies in place to support households and business and we will continue to do what we can to mitigate further uncertainty over the UK’s EU exit.

“The Scottish Government has consistently been clear that the best option for the future well-being and prosperity of Scotland is to stay in the European Union.”