The UK economy contracted by 0.2 per cent in the first quarter, following a fall of 0.3 per cent the last quarter of 2011. A recession is defined as two straight quarters of economic contraction.The last recession was recorded three years ago in 2009.

The “double dip” is the first recorded since the 1970s.

Much of the drop in GDP can be blamed on a 3 percent slump in construction. Manufacturing contracted 0.1 percent.

Prime Minister David Cameron faced the House of Commons to defend austerity measures that the opposition blame for a lack of growth.

“There is not a single business organization or serious commentator, or international body that thinks these problems emerged in the last 24 months,” he said, followed by theatrical cheers from fellow party members.