The British economy shrank by 0.1 per cent in March as inflation takes its toll.

Office for National Statistics data shows there was a further slowdown after there was no growth in February and 0.7 per cent growth in January.

The quarterly figure (between January and March) showed a growth of 0.8 per cent, which was down from 1.3 per cent in the previous three months.

The data was released as alarm bells ring over the country’s economic prospects, with the Bank of England warning last week that a recession now loomed large due to the cost of living crisis gathering pace.

Families and businesses are straining under a weight of global price increases largely caused by demand outstripping supply as the COVID crisis eases and, latterly, the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Which makes this an ideal time for a trade war with Europe, which appears to be on the cards after Boris Johnson and his foreign secretary, Liz Truss, threatened to tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Brussels has threatened to retaliate if the UK rips up the agreement by beginning legal action and starting dispute procedures that could result in trade tariffs and even the cancellation of the free trade agreement.

Should the stand-off develop into a trade war, it could escalate the cost of living crisis.

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