OPPOSITION parties have laid the blame for emerging signs of recession squarely on Tory mismanagement of the economy, calling it a “wake up call” for Rishi Sunak.

The SNP said new figures showing gross domestic product shrank in the last quarter were a “damning indictment” of the Conservatives’ record in government over the last 12 years.

The Office for National Statistics reported this morning that GDP contracted by 0.2 per cent between July and September, with experts seeing it as the start of a prolonged recession.

The Bank of England recently predicted that when the economy started to shrink it would mark the beginning of at least two years in a shallow recession, the longest on record.

SNP shadow chancellor Alison Thewliss, the MP for Glasgow Central, said Scotland needed the full powers of independence to achieve a more prosperous future outside the UK.

She also warned Jeremy Hunt and the Prime Minister not to reimpose austerity in next week’s budget, when the Chancellor is expected to hike taxes and slash public spending in order to tackle a £60billion black hole in the public finances.

It is usual for governments to raise spending and cut taxes to help cope with recession, but Mr Hunt is likely to do the opposite as there is so much red ink on the Treasury’s books.

Ms Thewliss said: “These latest figures must serve as a final wake-up call for the Prime Minister and his Chancellor to deliver real support to protect struggling households and businesses, and ditch their austerity agenda.

“With a long and deep recession looming, the grim reality is that far too many people are frightened to open their bills, and are unable to put food on the table or heat their homes. 

“These statistics are a damning indictment of the Tories’ disastrous economic record - driven by deep austerity, targeting of the most vulnerable in society, and imposing an extreme Brexit that has hammered the economy, trade and led to staff shortages.

“It’s beyond any doubt that only with the full powers of independence will we be able to properly tackle the cost-of-living crisis, escape Westminster control, and build a fairer and more prosperous future.”

The Scottish Greens said that if the UK did go into recession, the downturn would have “Tory fingerprints all over it”.

Economy spokesperson Maggie Chapman MSP said: "This winter we are facing the worst cost crisis for generations. There may be global challenges, but the cruel and incompetent Tories have made the situation many times worse. 

“Time and again they have proven that they are unfit to run the economy and unfit to govern. “From beginning to end this is a crisis of their very own making.

"Rather than protecting people and services they have chosen to hammer ordinary households and families with sky high bills, soaring costs and a totally reckless Brexit while protecting their wealthy friends.

"Things can't go on like this. It is totally unsustainable and people will die.

"Next week's budget will only make things worse, with the Chancellor having already made clear that cuts and 2010-style austerity will be at its heart.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Today’s numbers are another page of failure in the Tories’ record on growth.

“And the reality of this failure is family finances crunched, British businesses left behind and more anxiety for the future.

“Britain’s unique exposure to economic shocks has been down to a Conservative-led decade of weak growth, low productivity and underinvestment and widening inequality.

“We’re already set to be near the bottom of global league tables on growth, but all the Tories offer yet again is austerity.

“Britain has so much potential to grow. We have the talent. We have the capacity. Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, our modern Industrial Strategy, our plan to boost skills and our active partnership with business, will get our economy firing on all cylinders.”

UK Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Sarah Olney said: “Today’s figures show the Conservative Government is leaving our economy smaller and all of us poorer.

“People will never forgive this Government for crashing our economy during a cost-of-living crisis and putting up their mortgages by hundreds of pounds a month.”

The Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland said “pro-growth measures” were vital.

Policy Chair Andrew McRae said: “Though the onset of a recession doesn’t come as a great shock, that doesn’t make it any less worrying. 

“For small businesses who have battled on through the consecutive crises of recent years, with little opportunity to stop and take a breath, this is another blow to deal with.

“All eyes will therefore be on next week’s Autumn Statement and the Scottish Government’s Budget next month – they must not shy away from pro-growth measures. 

“We want to ensure that small businesses aren’t burdened with additional taxes that will deplete their already low reserves or onerous regulations that will stand in the way of them running their business.

“Decision makers at all levels must unlock the potential of small businesses to survive the tough winter ahead and lead the way to economic recovery in the spring.”

The CBI on Friday urged the Government to “learn the lessons” of the last decade, with lead economist Alpesh Paleja urging the Chancellor to “safeguard capital spending and investment allowances to drive private sector growth”.