Business confidence has hit its lowest level for more than seven years, new research suggests.
Recent falls have been driven by a ”substantial” decline in manufacturing optimism, it found.
The services sector also slipped, business advisers BDO LLP said.
Spokesman Peter Hemington said: “The last time we saw business confidence at such a low level was when the country was staggering out of the doldrums caused by the global financial crisis.
“With an unpredictable General Election looming, continued political volatility in the UK remains a key driver of falling optimism.
“Given British businesses are telling us that new hires and investment are hard to justify at the moment, growth will continue to remain elusive until there is some kind of resolution of the Brexit conundrum.”
BDO said its Optimism Index, using macroeconomic data from the UK’s main business surveys, indicated zero growth.