Belfast Telegraph

'Significant uncertainty' remains over Brexit, says IMF chief Christine Lagarde

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said "significant uncertainty" remains over the UK's future relationship with the European Union.

Christine Lagarde refused to comment directly on whether she believed Brexit would damage the UK economy, as a leaked Cabinet Office memo suggested the Government has no overall plan for quitting the EU.

Ms Lagarde told the Press Association: "We'll see how it goes. Certainly what we have at the moment, still, is significant uncertainty as to what the terms and conditions of the relationship will be between Europe and the United Kingdom.

"We've been partners for a long time and I hope it continues."

IMF managing director Ms Lagarde was speaking at Glamour's Women of the Year Awards in Los Angeles, where she received a lifetime achievement honour.

The 60-year-old Frenchwoman urged women to "continue the fight" for gender equality as she collected her award.

Before the referendum, the IMF forecast that withdrawal from the EU could force the UK into recession in 2017 and deliver a 5.6% hit to national income by the end of the decade.

Ms Lagarde had rated the consequences of leaving the EU between "pretty bad to very, very bad" for the UK.

After the referendum result in June, she said: "We urge the authorities in the UK and Europe to work collaboratively to ensure a smooth transition to a new economic relationship between the UK and the EU, including by clarifying the procedures and broad objectives that will guide the process."