Chancellor George Osborne was given a top-level nudge to tone down his savage austerity agenda in his next Budget today as the nation faced knock-out economic news.
It is widely expected that economic growth contracted in the last three months which, with economists predicting another fall in the first quarter of this year, signals an unprecedented triple-dip recession.
But - as Prime Minister David Cameron postured in Europe - Mr Osborne got an earful from International Monetary Fund chief economist Olivier Blanchard, who said the Chancellor should consider altering his austerity programme.
A day after the IMF downgraded its predictions for Britain's economic growth Mr Blanchard said Mr Osborne should consider new tactics if the "recovery fails to take off."
He told Radio 4's Today programme that conditions in the country had worsened and he thought the March Budget would be a "good time to take stock.
"We said that if things look bad at the beginning of 2013 - which they do - then there should be a reassessment of fiscal policy."
He said the IMF had always said that spending cuts should be "slow, steady."
Meanwhile, Mr Cameron told the World Economic Forum in Davos Britain will use its year-long presidency of the G8 group of rich nations to push for global action against tax evasion and "aggressive" tax avoidance.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said global efforts to tackle avoidance need to be matched by "tougher action" domestically.
She said: "The tens of billions of pounds raised would be a fairer and more effective way to tackle budget deficits than endless self-defeating austerity.
"The UK remains a global leader for tax secrecy, both through the City and its crown dependencies."
Mr Cameron also revealed an economist who studies the political and economic problems of the very poorest countries is advising the British government before the G8 meeting this year.
Paul Collier is director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University and Professor of economics and public policy at the university's Blavatnik School of Government.
He told the Morning Star: "I am a non-political professor of economics at Oxford whose expertise is Africa. I work with many governments and I am not paid [by the government]."
This year's G8 meeting will be held in Northern Ireland in June.
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