Economic growth fell at a quarterly rate of 0.2 percent in the three months to June, below all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to a flat reading.
Some investors now expect Britain to enter a technical recession, which represents two consecutive quarters of negative growth, if the economic situation continues to worsen.
'But what is most important to me, especially as Chancellor, is that our economy remains strong and we are actually, in terms of fundamentals, one of the strongest economies in the developed world'.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to yank Britain out of the European Union by the October 31 deadline whether the two sides have reached an exit deal or not.
The fall in GDP was driven by a fall in manufacturing after a strong start to the year, with production brought forward ahead of the UK's original departure date from the EU. The last time the economy shrank was almost seven years ago, in late 2012.
New finance minister Sajid Javid on Friday said that the global economy was slowing, but highlighted other recent positive data for the UK.
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Year-on-year economic growth slid to 1.2% from 1.8% in the first quarter, Britain's Office for National Statistics said, its weakest since the start of 2018.
"The way to end that uncertainty is to make sure that we leave as planned, which is (on) October 31". There was a 2.3 percent fall in manufacturing, business investment contracted by 0.5 percent and construction was down by 1.3 percent from the previous quarter. The pound fell after the report, sliding to US$1.2117 as at 10:17 am in London.
But the currency then dropped 0.4% to as low as 92.65 pence per euro, its weakest since August 30, 2017, after the Financial Times, citing unidentified senior aides to the prime minister, reported that Johnson would hold an election in the days following Brexit if lawmakers sunk his government with a vote of no-confidence.
The numbers do contain some distortions that flattered growth in the first quarter, and have depressed it in the second, including stockpiling for a no deal Brexit.
Services output growth slowed to 0.1% in the second quarter - the weakest quarterly figure in three years. "Brexiteers may struggle to blame project fear as the PR battle with the People's Vote campaign heats up so we can probably expect plenty of finger-pointing at how badly Europe is performing and how the global slowdown is to blame".
Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the economy hit the buffers in the second quarter.
Some would have expected the decline in the price of the pound to have offset this by making United Kingdom goods more affordable to foreign consumers, but the fact that United Kingdom supply chains are some of the most internationally integrated in the world means this hasn't helped, he said.