Britain

UK ducks recession but annual growth weakest since 2010

The UK has dodged a recession despite seeing the biggest year-on-year slowdown in nearly a decade.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the 0.3% growth for the third quarter signalled the economy "slowing".

That's because the 0.3% figure puts annual GDP at 1% – down from the 1.3% calculated at the end of the second quarter.

One percent is the weakest annual rate since 2010.

Prior to the 2016 Brexit referendum, the economy had typically grown at more than 2% a year.

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However, the expansion over the quarter meant the UK avoided plunging into a recession, defined by two successive periods of economic decline.

It shrank by 0.2% in the three months to June 2019, as businesses dealt with the fallout of stockpiling after Brexit was delayed from its first deadline in March.

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Despite this, the economy was slightly weaker than both market expectations and the Bank of England's latest forecasts, which had pointed to 0.4% growth for the period between July and September.

Over the quarter, Boris Johnson became prime minister, which fuelled concerns among businesses that Britain could be heading for a no-deal exit from the EU on Halloween.

In the event, Mr Johnson was forced by parliament to seek a further delay and he eventually secured backing for an election aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock at Westminster.

With the election campaign entering its second week, Chancellor Sajid Javid hailed the "solid" growth figures.

Image: Growth was slightly weaker than both market expectations and Bank of England forecasts

But his Labour counterpart John McDonnell said: "The fact that the government will be celebrating 0.1% growth in the last six months is a sign of how low their hopes and expectations for our economy are."

Tej Parikh, economist at the Institute of Directors, said: "Narrowly avoiding a recession is nothing to celebrate.

"The UK economy has been in stop-start mode all year, with growth punctuated by the various Brexit deadlines."

A spokesman for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said: "GDP grew steadily in the third quarter, mainly thanks to a strong July.

"Services again led the way with construction also performing well.

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