The country's economic prospects have been dealt a major blow by news that the UK's trade deficit has widened to its highest level in seven years.
The monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics found that overall exports of goods and services fell to £39.4 billion in April, with imports rising to £43.8 billion. The subsequent deficit of £4.4 billion is £1.5 billion higher than it was in March and much worse than economists had anticipated.
The figures make for particularly bad reading for the government, which is expecting the UK's exporting activity to deliver half the predicted 0.8% rise in GDP throughout the whole of 2012.
Given this data set, there is now a real danger the economy may contract further during the second quarter of the year to prolong the recession as exporters continue to face significant challenges in the current climate.