Britain's exit from the European Union would pose a "significant downside risk" and potentially send the nation into a recession, International Monetary fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday.
"The majority of economic analysis that has been conducted agree that a vote to depart the EU would be costly in the long run," Lagarde told a news conference in London. "There is also a risk of an adverse market reaction to a leave vote, the implications of which could be particularly severe."
She explained that the hit to the British economy could range from "pretty bad to very, very bad."
The IMF released a statement earlier this year warning that Britain risks falling into a self-reinforcing cycle of weaker economic growth and lower house and share prices should voters opt to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum.
The IMF joins a long list of states and international organizations concerned about the economic consequences of Britain's exit from the European economic bloc.
Former NATO chiefs said in a letter to The Daily Telegraph newspaper that a so-called Brexit would give aid to the West's enemies" and would "undoubtedly lead to a loss of British influence" at a time when “we need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder across the Euro-Atlantic community against common threats."
President Obama also urged Britain to stay in the EU, saying in a joint news conference with Prime Minister David Cameron in London last month that the country's membership "makes you guys bigger players." David Cameron himself has warned against the exit, for security reasons as well as economic ones.
“Isolationism has never served this country well," he said. "The evidence is clear — we'll be better off in, and poorer if we leave."
Britons are decidedly split on the issue of whether to leave the EU. An average of the last six public opinion polls done by What UK Thinks indicates that voters are split firmly down the middle, with 50 percent saying they would opt to leave and 50 percent saying they want to stay.