International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde revealed new numbers on Wednesday showing that the British economy has stalled since last June’s vote to leave the European Union.
The new IMF report projects that the U.K. economy will grow 1.6% in 2017, down from earlier projections of 2.2% if Brexit had been rejected. The IMF further says U.K. growth will drop to 1.5% in 2018, down from Brexit-free projections of 2.2%.
Lagarde used the revised predictions to attack those who had dismissed earlier IMF warnings about Brexit’s economic fallout. The IMF had predicted that leaving the E.U. would harm the U.K. economy by shrinking trade with Europe.
“The numbers that we are seeing the economy deliver today are actually proving the point we made a year and a half ago,” Lagarde said yesterday in comments reported by The Independent. “People said, you are too gloomy, you are one of those ‘experts.’”
“Unfortunately we were not too gloomy,” Lagarde continued, “we were on pretty much on the mark.”
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Lagarde was responding to Leave campaigners who had dismissed IMF and other economic projections, including one who said “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts.” Instead, Leave partisans appealed to British voters’ desire to take back control from far-off European elites, and to restrict immigration from elsewhere in Europe.
Signs that the experts were correct about the economic consequences of Brexit came early and often after the vote, however. Though terms are still being negotiated, many European businesses have said they will move operations from Britain, and London’s financial sector seems particularly vulnerable.
The new numbers put the U.K. in the running to be the new Sick Man of Europe, even on its way out the door. Overall European growth for 2017 was recently estimated at 2.2% with France, Belgium, and Italy lagging about as badly as the U.K.
For comparison, American GDP increased at a 3.2% annual rate in the third quarter of this year.