The IMF’s Warning on ‘Brexit’

Peter Nicholls / Pool / AP

The International Monetary Fund is warning of dire consequences if Britain votes to leave the European Union.

Here’s an excerpt from the IMF’s report released Friday:

A vote for exit would precipitate a protracted period of heightened uncertainty, leading to financial market volatility and a hit to output. Following a decision to exit, the UK would need to negotiate the terms of its withdrawal and a new relationship with the EU—unless it abandoned single market access and relied on WTO rules, which would significantly raise trade barriers. It seems likely that ratification of a new deal would require unanimous consent of all EU member governments, making agreements subject to considerable political risks. As EU-level agreements also cover the UK’s trading relationship with 60 non-EU economies (and prospective arrangements with another 67 countries are in the works), the UK would also need to simultaneously renegotiate these arrangements, or else see them revert to WTO rules. These processes and their eventual outcomes could well remain unresolved for years, weighing heavily on investment and economic sentiment during the interim and depressing output. In addition, volatility in key financial markets would likely rise as markets adjust to new circumstances.

Speaking in London, Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said the impact on an exit to Britain’s economy could range from “pretty bad to very, very bad.” Her comments echoed those by Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, who warned on Thursday that the consequences of Britain’s exit from the EU “could possibly include a technical recession.”

Those campaigning for Britain’s exit from the EU have criticized Lagarde:

Britons vote on June 23 on whether to stay in the EU or leave. Polls show a close race.