UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage has blasted back against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims today that Britain leaving the European Union would cause a major global economic downturn.
Speaking to the BBC this afternoon, Mr. Farage said: “All the [people] who are part of the institutional infrastructure of big government: be suspicious of. They’re all the same people. They’re all interchangeable. They go from being government ministers to working for the IMF to working for the European Commission.
“What this is about is big politics, big banks, and big businesses trying to bully the British people into staying part of a status quo that is not really working”.
The news that the IMF thinks Britain leaving the European Union could be a massive blow to the global economy is at odds with how the ‘In’ campaign has been portraying Britain: as too small to go it alone, but somehow big enough to deal such a large economic shock worldwide as a result of Brexit.
Mr. Farage added in a statement: “The IMF has been hijacked by the architects of the failing EU project, so of course they want the UK to remain.
“This is all about the big banks and the establishment protecting their interests within a cosy EU cartel that looks after multi-national corporations and dismisses the democratic wishes of the average man, woman or small and medium sized business.
“The IMF was wrong when it supported the Euro, wrong when it failed to predict the global recession and is wrong now it is trying to scare the British people.
“The best way for the UK to protect its economic interests is by taking back control from Brussels, cutting burdensome EU red tape and start trading with the wider world – all things the EU bans us from doing as a member of their undemocratic and diminishing club.”
According to IMF and @StrongerIn Britain is too small to go it alone, but so big we'd cause global economy crisis upon Brexit. Which is it?
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) April 12, 2016
Britain could deal a damaging blow to the fragile global economy if it votes to leave the European Union in June, the IMF said on Tuesday in the sharpest warning yet from a global body about the risks associated with Brexit.
In a half-yearly assessment of the world economy, the International Monetary Fund listed the June 23 referendum as a key risk alongside instability in China and other emerging markets, volatile share prices and a loss of long-term growth potential in advanced economies.
“The planned June referendum … has already created uncertainty for investors,” the Fund’s chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said. “A Brexit could do severe regional and global damage by disrupting established trading relationships.”
The Fund also cut its 2016 growth forecast for Britain to 1.9 percent from 2.2 percent, the sharpest downgrade for any major advanced economy other than Japan.
Britain’s economy expanded by 2.3 percent in 2015 and government forecasters have said growth will slow this year and in subsequent ones.
In February, the world’s top 20 economies listed Brexit as a global risk after lobbying from British finance minister George Osborne.
Osborne, who has a warm relationship with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, said the Fund’s comments reinforced the case for staying.
“The IMF has given us the clearest independent warning of the taste of bad things to come if we leave the EU,” he said.
Supporters of Britain leaving said the IMF was being unduly negative and that the biggest risk was remaining in the EU.
“The IMF has talked down the British economy in the past and now it is doing it again at the request of our own (finance minister),” said Matthew Elliott, chief executive of campaigning group Vote Leave.
The IMF said Britain’s trade with the EU was likely to suffer if it left, especially during the two years after the referendum when it would negotiate exit terms, “resulting in an extended period of heightened uncertainty”.
On Monday the City of London said leaving would be a shock to Britain’s financial industry, threatening foreign investment and crimping growth.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who supports EU membership, promised to hold the referendum to satisfy the many members of his Conservative Party who want Britain to leave the bloc.
Most opinion polls suggest supporters of EU membership have a narrow lead.
(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by John Stonestreet)