It's a strange time in politics right now

A general view of Reuters Square, Canary Wharf Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Be afraid, be very afraid. How strange politics are right now. The International Monetary Fund delivers a thumpingly depressing set of predictions about the UK and the whole world's economy, seeing risk in almost every nook and cranny, and the residents of Number 10 and 11 are only too eager to talk about it.

What? The stewards of our economy happy about a doomsday scenario? There is no challenge to the IMF's authority this time, no spat between their economists and the chancellor (not so long ago); instead David Cameron and George Osborne heartily agree with them.

For this is what the residents of Downing Street and the politicians who want you to stay in the EU have been hoping for, and expecting for months - a big thumbs down to the idea of leaving the EU from a big, grand, group of august number crunchers who study the world's economies.

That's because Number 10 wants our choice, your choice about staying in or leaving the EU to be about jobs. So this warning - not just of a spot of mild uncertainty, a few jitters in the economy, but something much more serious - is catnip for their campaign.

The risk of "severe damage" to the economy if the UK dares to vote to leave? You're going to hear it again, and again, and again. But will it make a difference to how we vote?

Those who want to persuade us to leave the EU say this is just the latest episode in the 'Horror Movie of Project Fear' - their description of the Remain campaign.

Of course, plenty of voters don't always like being told what to do - not least by a remote group of international academics. And the IMF has, of course, been wrong before, and wrong about rather a lot.

But it's a lot harder for the Out campaign to chuck the now-familiar accusation of scaremongering at the IMF than it is at their fellow politicians.

And with how we make a living the core of the campaign, such a clear backing for one side of the argument from a big organisation with an international reputation does matter.

The truth, of course, is that no-one can really be sure what the outcome would be. We're all being asked to choose between a hypothetical world outside and an evolving EU that never stays the same.

So don't be surprised if the In campaign hangs on to what the IMF have put down in black and white.

More on this story