Monday 16 May 2016 1:45 am

Yes, a Brexit holds many risks – but this wave of dystopian warnings is failing to convince voters

The IMF’S Christine Lagarde painted an apocalyptic picture of life for the UK outside the EU.

As she finished her speech on Friday, she smiled and said “have a lovely weekend.” The response from the Remain campaign was probably “thanks very much, we will.”

Meanwhile, the Brexit lobby was left reeling from her assessment that the consequences of a Leave vote on 23 June would range from “pretty bad to very, very bad.”


Read more: Online polls got London Mayoral race right – don’t ignore them on Brexit

The IMF wants us to believe that this translates to a GDP contraction of between 1.5 and 9.5 per cent. The former is plausible, the latter is preposterous.

Still, if Brexit-backers found Lagarde's claim hard to stomach, wait until she publishes the fund’s full assessment just days before the vote.

The timing of that report has already triggered furious accusations that the government plans to get around its own campaign restrictions by outsourcing the doomsaying to international bodies. Indeed, there's every chance the UN will weigh in next.

The IMF’s bombshell came just days after the Bank of England used ‘the r word’ – recession – in its own Brexit impact assessment.

The economic scaremongering (or objective analysis, depending upon your point of view) joins a chorus of pro-Remain experts that already includes warnings that Brexit would threaten the quality of our swimming beaches, imperil the bee population, undermine workers' rights and, according to Harriet Harman, trigger a resurgence of old-fashioned sexism among the country’s menfolk. 

Read more: When Making your Mind Up, remember Eurovision is nothing to do with the EU


This is all in addition to David Cameron’s vision of war on the continent, spooks' concerns about our intelligence networks and Oxford University's fear that looser ties with Brussels would shake the foundations of their hallowed halls.

Taken together, the public is right to wonder whether the fears aren't just a little over the top. Indeed, while it is too early to tell what the cumulative effect of "project fear" will be, there are little signs yet that the experts are getting through.

This is, after all, the age of the sceptic and of anti-establishment sentiment, and while it's true that uncertainty about a post-Brexit future is the Leave campaign's Achilles heel, the Remain team will have their work cut out if the public ain’t buying what the experts are selling.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Share