Britain's economy began to contract in the month following the vote in favour of leaving the European Union, data released on Tuesday 9 August from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) showed. According to NIESR figures, the UK economy contracted 0.2% last month, dragging quarterly growth in the three months to July to 0.3% compared to the 0.6% recorded in the quarter to June.

"The month-on-month profile suggests that the third quarter has got off to a weak start, with output declining in July," NIESR research fellow James Warren said.

The think-tank cautioned against reading too much into the data, given its volatile nature but warned there was 50-50 chance of Britain entering a technical recession - two consecutive quarters of negative growth - by the end of next year.

"Our estimates suggest that there is around an evens chance of a technical recession by the end of 2017," Warren added.

Last week, in its latest Inflation Report, the Bank of England slashed growth forecast for 2017 to 0.8% from a previous estimate of 2.3%, making it the biggest downgrade in growth from one inflation report to the next. The growth cut exceeded that seen during the financial crisis in 2008.

"Following the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union, the exchange rate has fallen and the outlook for growth in the short to medium term has weakened markedly," the Bank said.

Bookmaker William Hill said a recession before the end of 2017 is an odds-on shot and they offer 8/11 that it will happen, but even money that it will not.

"We believe there is slightly more chance than not that the UK will experience another recession before the end of 2017," said William Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe.