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Sun, 29 March 2020

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Bank of England chief Mark Carney hits back after Brexiteers tear into no-deal projections

Bank of England chief Mark Carney hits back after Brexiteers tear into no-deal projections
3 min read

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has defended his dire warnings about a no-deal Brexit after a string of attacks from Eurosceptic MPs.

The central bank chief said his organisation did not have the “luxury” of burying its analysis, which warned that a “disorderly Brexit” could cause a bigger economic slump than the 2008 financial crash.

The Bank’s scenarios prompted a firestorm of criticism of the governor, with leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg branding him a "second-tier Canadian politician" who had "failed" to get a job in his home country.

But, appearing before the Treasury Committee today, Dr Carney hit out at the “entirely unfair” attacks and pointed out that MPs themselves had asked for the analysis to be made public.

“The fact is we are accountable to the people of the United Kingdom, through this committee, through Parliament,” he said.

“We don’t have the luxury of holding back material which we have produced that is directly relevant to our responsibilities from this committee if it’s demanded.”


The Bank of England’s analysis estimated that a “disorderly” form of no-deal Brexit would see the UK economy shrink by nearly 8% and unemployment soar to 7.5%. 

The central bank cited disruption at UK ports and no new trade deals signed with other countries for years as key drivers behind that downturn.

But Eurosceptic Treasury committee member Charlie Elphicke challenged Dr Carney to provide evidence that there would be “massive queues of lorries” at the port of Dover in the event of the UK not securing a deal with the EU.

Dr Carney said the Bank had carried out first-hand interviews with people involved in running the UK's ports, adding: "Anyone who's actually going to the ports, and talking to the ports, and talking to the logistics companies, would accept that at this point in time - on December 4, 2018 - they are not fully ready."

The central bank governor was also challenged on whether Downing Street - which is trying to win support for Theresa May's Brexit deal ahead of a crucial Commons vote next week - had sought to influence its reports.

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker asked Dr Carney if Number 10 had decided “where, when and how your report would land”.

The Bank of England chief shot back: “Absolutely not. The only dialogue was between this committee, which is our form of accountability. And Number 10 [was] not involved, not a sight."

Dr Carney won support from Brexit-backing Labour MP John Mann, who said the Treasury Committee had “unanimously” asked the central bank to assess the impact of Brexit.

He accused Mr Rees-Mogg of being “contemptuous of Parliament in suggesting that you weren’t being straightforward with this committee”.