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UK slips into recession derailing Sunak’s pledge to generate growth

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London, Feb 15

The UK has slipped into recession just months ahead of a general election, official figures showed on Thursday, derailing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to generate economic growth, the media reported.

The GDP fell 0.3 per cent in the final three months of 2023, following a 0.1 per cent contraction in the July to September period, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

“All the main sectors fell on the quarter, with manufacturing, construction and wholesale being the biggest drags on growth, partially offset by increases in hotels and rentals of vehicles and machinery,” ONS director of economic statistics Liz McKeown said in a statement, CNN reported.

The ONS estimates that the UK’s GDP increased by a meagre 0.1 per cent in 2023. That’s the worst performance since 2009 when the economy was still reeling from the global financial crisis, if 2020, which was affected by the pandemic, is excluded.

Last year’s weak rise in output follows growth of 4.3 per cent in 2022.

“Across 2023 as a whole the economy has been broadly flat,” McKeown added.

The news will come as a disappointment to Sunak, whose ruling Conservative Party is contesting two local elections in England on Thursday.

It could also widen the already commanding lead the Opposition Labour Party enjoys in opinion polls ahead of the national election expected this year, CNN reported.

“Though the shallowness of this recession provides comfort, these figures also confirm that our economy remained locked in a cycle of persistent stagnation throughout 2023,” said Suren Thiru, economics director at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

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