IMF chief renews call for UK to remain part of EU

20 Jun 16

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde has reiterated her call for Britain to vote to remain in the European Union in this week’s referendum, saying there is “a clear case” for how the UK has benefited from membership of the bloc.

In a speech in Vienna on Friday, Lagarde said she had always admired the UK for its openness to other nationalities and foreign cultures, and found “it hard to believe that attitudes have changed in such a short time” and that the country would vote for Brexit.

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“We have already been on record that the economic risks of leaving are firmly to the downside,” she stated.

“There is, in my view, a clear case as to how the UK has benefited – and will continue to benefit – from its membership in the European Union.”

Both jobs and national income were higher as a result of trade between the UK and the rest of the EU, Lagarde said.

“This is not trade that would have happened anyway, or trade that has simply been diverted away from other parts of the world,” she added. “The formation of the EU and the single market has been instrumental in generating more trade than would otherwise have been the case.

“And with more trade has come more investment, as the UK has become integrated into European supply chains – such as in the aerospace industry, and in factories producing cars for the whole European market. Increased trade has also raised productivity and incomes by increasing the scope for economies of scale in production and efficient specialisation.”

She said this had helped the UK to become a more dynamic and vibrant economy. “As in all countries, there are people who are struggling in this new environment, but for the majority of citizens, this has been a great success story.”

But Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign, said the IMF had chosen to ignore the positive benefits of leaving the EU and instead focused only on the supposed negatives. “If we Vote Leave we can create 300,000 jobs by doing trade deals with fast-growing economies across the globe,” he stated. “We can stop sending the £350m [gross] we pay Brussels every week. That is why it is safer to vote Leave.”

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