Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The British economy contracted in the second quarter of 2019, driving fears it may be headed for its first recession in 10 years -- as the deadline for leaving the European Union looms in October.
ONS head of national accounts Rob Kent-Smith said the contraction followed "robust growth" in the first quarter and that manufacturing output fell off after a strong start in 2019. He added the construction sector also slowed while the service sector was flat.
"The trade deficit narrowed markedly, as imports fell following a sharp rise in the first quarter ahead of the U.K.'s original departure date from the EU," Kent-Smith said.
The statistics office said growth from April through June declined 0.2 percent, continuing a steady decline that followed growth to start the year.
"This is a challenging period across the global economy, with growth slowing in many countries," Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said. "But the fundamentals of the British economy are strong -- wages are growing, employment is at a record high and we're forecast to grow faster than Germany, Italy and Japan this year.
"The government is determined to provide certainty to people and businesses on Brexit -- that's why we are clear that the U.K. is leaving the EU on Oct. 31," he continued.
In light of Britain's forthcoming EU exit, Javid announced a one-year spending review to give government departments "financial certainty."