GDP figures are a problem for Osborne and Cameron

GDP figures are a problem for Osborne and Cameron triple-dip recession Photo: Press Association

Just when David Cameron thought he was on a roll (Europe speech, unemployment down, best PMQs for ages) along comes that old enemy - GDP - to spoil the party.

That the UK economy shrank in the final 3 months of 2012 was not unexpected. That it contracted more than predicted, however, is a problem for Numbers 10 and 11.

Added to news this week of a deterioration in the public finances (borrowing is up on this time last year) then it starts to look increasingly bleak.

We are now closer to the next General Election than we are to the last, and that has been concentrating minds in the Treasury.

George Osborne saw us into and out if a double-dip recession, how will he survive leading us into an unprecedented triple-dip (which is where we'll be if the figures for Q1 2012 are also negative)?

The "good news will keep coming" David Cameron promised.

Yes, on unemployment it has. On the economy, it has not.

And he can't afford to wait for long.