A large majority of economists polled by the Financial Times believed this year would rival 2009 for economic weakness in Britain as output was hit by the eurozone debt crisis, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The FT said its survey of 83 economists, including 11 former members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, showed that the number of respondents who believed the economic outlook would deteriorate in 2012 was three times those that thought it would improve.
Even if there was a double-dip recession in 2012, however, only a small minority were urging finance minister George Osborne to abandon his seven-year austerity plan in favour of stimulating the economy with tax cuts or more public spending, said the newspaper.
The (Osborne deficit-reduction) plan was a bit bold, but having got the credit for that in (lower government borrowing) rates we should not backtrack now, John Gieve, former Bank of England deputy governor, was quoted in the report as saying.
Only 21 economists agreed with opposition Labour Party finance spokesman Ed Balls that the austerity measures were too far and too fast, the newspaper said.
(Reporting By Ralph Gowling; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)