The head of the International Monetary Fund has come out strongly against Britain leaving the European Union.
Christine Lagarde warned there would be no economic positives and the impact would range from “pretty bad to very, very bad”.
Rejecting accusations that she’s taking sides in the referendum debate, Lagarde said the IMF’s role is to highlight economic risks: “It’s not just a domestic issue. I knows it is a big domestic issue for many of you, but it’s an international issue. I don’t think that in the last six months I have visited a country anywhere in the world where I have not been asked what will be the economic consequences of Brexit.”
Lagarde: Brexit represents a significant downside risk and is an international issue that concerns the whole world— IMF (@IMFNews) May 13, 2016
She was presenting the IMF’s annual report on Britain’s economy which said the UK risks falling into a spiral of weaker economic growth.
On international trade Lagarde said: “Negotiations on new arrangements with the European Union and other trading partners could in our view take years, leading to a protracted period of uncertainty, and the longer this uncertainty goes on, the more heavily it will weigh on investment and growth”.
By contrast, the IMF report said UK economic growth is expected to rebound later this year if Britain stays in Europe.
Anti-EU campaigners accused the IMF of bullying and questioned its track record saying “its forecasts are never right”.
Lagarde spoke one day after the Bank of England said the UK economy would slow sharply, and possibly even enter a brief recession following a Brexit.
However the series of warnings do not appear to have swayed many voters. Opinion polls show Britons believe staying in the EU would be best for the economy but they are evenly split on how they intend to vote.