Britain's economy shrank by a worse-than-expected 0.7 per cent in the second quarter as recession tightened its grip, official data showed.
The economy shrank by 0.7 per cent between April and June, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday, blaming the downturn on steep falls in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
That was far worse than market expectations for a 0.3 per cent contraction, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
"We all know the country has deep-rooted economic problems and these disappointing figures confirm that," Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in reaction to the data.
"We're dealing with our debts at home and the debt crisis abroad ... but given what's happening in the world we need a relentless focus on the economy."
Britain was already in recession after posting two successive negative quarters since late 2011. The economy shrank by 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year and by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.
"This really is a very nasty surprise indeed," said IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer, in response to Wednesday's news.
"GDP contraction of 0.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter is far deeper than anyone expected and is a very disappointing and worrying performance.
"Plunging construction and manufacturing output weighed down heavily on the economy while service sector activity also contracted marginally."
The downbeat data was published two days before the 2012 Olympic Games opens in London, an event many hope will give a boost to the struggling UK economy.
"The economy should be able to return to growth in the third quarter, helped by the Olympics," Archer said.