Leader comment: D-Day for Brexit and the fear is real

The UK-EU dance over Brexit is nearly over (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The UK-EU dance over Brexit is nearly over (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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The fact that the IMF sees Brexit as a threat to the global economy should be taken extremely seriously and cannot be dismissed as ‘Project Fear’.

For more than two years, politicians, economists and other assorted commentators have warned about the dangers of Brexit to cries of “Project Fear!” from the Leave campaign.

But yesterday saw the International Monetary Fund list the UK’s impending departure from the European Union among the most important dangers facing the global economy.

Leaving aside overblown conspiracy theories, it is difficult to see why the IMF would be interested in spreading false scare stories; to do so would be to almost fraudulently undermine confidence in the world economy, an unthinkable step for such an august world body.

Its latest report was not the only source of international concern. Brexit could prove to be a “disaster” for Spain, according to one of that country’s leading tourist officials. A no-deal scenario could ground flights, create visa problems, complicate health insurance and generally dissuade people from travelling. And, of course, the same applies for tourists travelling in the opposite direction.

READ MORE: Poll: 62% think Tories haven’t considered Scotland in Brexit talks

Those who condemn Project Fear may sound convincing to some when considered within the context of political debate in the UK. But, when other countries and international experts express similar fears, they are genuine ones and must be taken seriously.

It beggars belief that those negotiating Brexit have left things so late, that so little progress has been made over the last two years.

As Theresa May’s weak Government faced sniping from Boris Johnson about the UK becoming “a permanent EU colony” and threats from the DUP, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday stressed the need for “decisive” progress to be made before a crunch European Council summit next week.

Anyone who has grown too weary of the endless talk about Brexit to continue listening needs to wake up now, because the next few days may turn out to be absolutely crucial to the economic health of Britain for years to come. Our elected representatives need to know that they will be held to account by the public if they fail to act in the best interests of this country.

And there is little doubt that a no-deal Brexit would not be in our national interest. As Barnier said, Brexit is “a lose-lose game where nobody stands to win”. If the entire world is going to suffer, it is obvious the UK will suffer most.

READ MORE: European airlines chief ‘optimistic’ over Brexit outcome for passengers