The UK is back in recession

Cameron's week gets even worse.

It just gets worse for David Cameron. The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that the UK is officially back in recession. Output in the first quarter of this year fell by 0.2 per cent, following a drop of 0.3 per cent in the previous quarter. In other words, the technical definition of a double-dip recession (two consecutive quarters of falling output) has now been met.

Following the politically catastrophic Budget, this could not have come at a worse time for government. At the very moment that voters are losing faith in George Osborne's ability to manage the economy, the data confirms that they are right to do so. Ed Balls, who warned of the risk of a double-dip recession before any other senior politician, has been entirely vindicated.

And the economics are little better. The figures could yet be revised up (or down) but one thing is clear: there is no recovery to speak of. The worse-than-expected figures (the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast growth of 0.3 per cent) mean that Osborne will be forced to borrow even more, further damaging his reputation and imperiling the UK's cherished AAA rating. The Chancellor will, inevitably, pin much of the blame on the eurozone crisis but the inconvenient truth is that growth evaporated long before the current troubles.

As for Cameron, with PMQs and Rupert Murdoch's appearance at the Leveson inquiry still to come, the worst day of his premiership has barely begun.

British Chancellor George Osborne meets residents during the official opening of the Google Campus on March 29, 2012 Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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