Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King slams ‘incompetent’ Brexit approach

Posted On: 
5th September 2018

Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has hit out at the UK's “incompetent” handling of the Brexit negotiations.

The former BoE boss took aim at the 'incompetent' handling of Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

Brexit-backing Lord King said that the UK had been left without a credible bargaining position after the Government revealed that it had been stockpiling food and medicines in the event of a no-deal exit.

The former banking boss told the BBC that the “whole lack of preparation” to deal with the consequences of Brexit had “beggared belief”.

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“It doesn’t tell us anything about whether the policy of staying in the EU is good or bad, it tells us everything about the incompetence of the preparation of it”, he said.

He added: “We haven’t had a credible bargaining position, because we hadn’t put in place measures where we could say to our colleagues in Europe, ‘ Look, we'd like a free-trade deal, we think that you would probably like one too, but if we can't agree, don't be under any misapprehension, we have put in place the measures that would enable us to leave without one.'"

The comments come after ministers released the first tranche of no-deal Brexit planning papers which confirmed that preparations had been made to stockpile food and medicines to ensure an “adequate” supply in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

But asked if he thought the Government had been incompetent in its handling of the negotiations, the cross-bench peer blasted parliament as whole, saying that both it and the civil service had been responsible for bringing the country to a position where “we are now being told that we have to accept a certain course of action otherwise it would be catastrophic”.

He added that he found the level of debate “depressing”and warned that achieving “Brexit in name only” would be the biggest future risk to the UK.

"The biggest economic problems facing the UK are, we save too little, we haven't worked out how to save for retirement, the pension system is facing I think a real challenge, we haven't worked out how to save enough for the NHS and finance it, we haven't worked out how we're going to save enough to provide care for the elderly”, he said.

He added: "These are the big economic challenges we face, but are they being discussed at present in an open way?

"No, because the political debate has completely taken up by Brexit. It's a discussion where both sides seem to be throwing insults at each other."