UK enters recession ahead of key by-election contests

The UK has entered a recession, official figures have revealed, placing strain on Rishi Sunak’s pledge to grow the economy ahead of two by-elections.

Yesterday data from the Office for National Statistics estimated that GDP fell by 0.3 per cent at the end of last year, meaning the country has entered a recession following a fall in the previous quarter.

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, insisted there was “light at the end of the tunnel” and denied downplaying the figures by saying the Bank of England does not “put too much weight on this data”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However the revelation will place further doubts on whether the Prime Minister is delivering on his five pledges, with growing the economy key amongst the promises made to the public at the start of last year.

A member of the public walks past a boarded up shop on New Bond Street in London.A member of the public walks past a boarded up shop on New Bond Street in London.
A member of the public walks past a boarded up shop on New Bond Street in London.

Though he has delivered on halving inflation, doubts remain over his other four commitments, including stopping small boat crossings, cutting NHS waiting lists and reducing debt.

The latest figures, coupled with a poor economic outlook from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) are set to rein back the extent to which the Chancellor is able to cut taxes at next month’s budget.

Mr Hunt is considering slashing billions from public spending plans if he does not have the money for the tax cuts he wants in the budget, suggesting that countries with “lighter taxes” did “tend to grow faster”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said the Prime Minister’s promise to grow the economy was “in tatters” during a press conference in central London.

“This is Rishi Sunak’s recession and the news will be deeply worrying for families and business across Britain,” she added.

Labour are today hoping for resounding victories in two by-elections in previously-safe Conservative seats after polls closed last night in Wellingborough and Kingswood.

The contests are set to give an indication of where the current parties stand with the public outside of the opinion polls where Labour hold a lead of between 10 and 20 points.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The performance of Reform UK, which has taken the place of the Brexit Party in the last general election, will help show the scale of the defeat the Conservatives could suffer in the national election expected later this year, if voters decide to switch away from the Tories.

A Tory defeat in either constituency would see the Government have more by-election losses in a single parliament than any administration since the 1960s.

It comes after a significant set of polling data suggested that the Conservatives could be left with as few as six seats in Yorkshire, according to analysis by Electoral Calculus.

This would see Rishi Sunak retain his own seat in Richmond and Northallerton, along with five other seats in North and East Yorkshire.