Britain's economy is shrinking, the broadest survey of business confidence since last month's historic vote to quit the European Union showed on Friday, leading finance minister Philip Hammond to pledge a loosening of purse strings if the weakness endures.
The Bank of England has also been clear that easing monetary policy may be necessary.
The flash, or preliminary, Markit survey of purchasing managers – executives who make spending decisions at 1,250 big firms - fell by the most in its 20-year history.
It was consistent with an economy contracting 0.4 percent in the third quarter, contrasting with an actual reading of plus 0.4 percent in the first quarter.
"July saw a dramatic deterioration in the economy," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist. "The downturn, whether manifesting itself in order book cancellations, a lack of new orders or the postponement or halting of projects, was most commonly attributed in one way or another to Brexit."