(Reuters) – Britain’s economy slowed more sharply than expected the first three months of 2015 in a setback for Prime Minister David Cameron who has staked his campaign for re-election next week on the strength of the recovery.
Gross domestic product grew by 0.3 percent in the January-March period compared with the last three months of 2014 when quarterly growth was 0.6 percent, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.
It was the slowest growth since the fourth quarter of 2012, the ONS said, when there were fears that Britain was tipping back into recession.
The median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists had pointed to only a marginal slowdown to growth of 0.5 percent.
The preliminary reading of GDP is largely an estimate by Britain’s statisticians with more half of the data yet to be gathered, and the figures are often revised.
The chief economist at the ONS, Joe Grice, warned against reading too much into one quarter’s figures.
But coming just nine days before the May 7 national election, the slowdown is sure to be seized upon by the opposition Labour Party which has been running neck-and-neck with Cameron’s Conservatives in opinion polls.
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