British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his long-awaited speech on the UK's relationship with the EU on January 23, 2013 in London, England. New figures out today revealed that Britain is at risk of slipping into its third recession in a row, leading to further uncertainty about the UK's future. - 

Fears are growing that Britain  may be headed for a triple-dip recession.  Figures out today show that the U.K. economy shrank by 0.3 percent in the last three months of last year. If, as some economists forecast, the economy contracts again this quarter, Britain will have slipped back into its third recession in a row.

This  bad news comes at the end of a difficult week for British business. Many large British companies are still reeling from the news that Prime Minister David Cameron plans to hold a referendum on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union.

Many  British business leaders have condemned the planned vote. They argue  that it damages  confidence as it raises the prospect of the UK being shut out of a market that buys one half of all their exports.

But there have been some words of encouragement for the U.K. from the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland. Speaking at the Forum, the head of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, said that leaving the EU wouldn’t  necessarily curtail  Britain’s trade with Europe:

“We have examples of countries who are not members of the EU -- like Norway and Switzerland -- and their trade with the EU is open. Maybe not as open as if you’re a member of the European Union, but open," says Lamy.

Critics of the British referendum, however, say that the full impact of leaving the EU is unsure. And since the vote will not be held until 2017, British exporters face five years of uncertainty.