Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has angrily responded to a warning by Vote Leave MP Bernard Jenkin reminding him about rules which ban him from making “any public comment” concerning the June 23 EU referendum, according to the BBC.
In a letter sent to Jenkin, Carney says that he and fellow remain campaigners have “a fundamental misunderstanding of central bank independence” and that he has not made his own views on Brexit known at any point during the campaign.
“Nor do I intend to share my private opinion other than via the anonymity of [the] ballot box when I join millions of others to cast my vote,” Carney continued.
“All of the public comments that I, or other Bank officials, have made regarding issues related to the referendum have been limited to factors that affect the Bank’s statutory responsibilities and have been entirely consistent with our remits.”
The Bank of England has been forceful in its warnings about Brexit, calling it the “most significant risk” to the British economy, and arguing that an EU exit could possibly include a technical recession.”
“We would expect a material slowing in growth,” Carney said in a press conference after the bank’s most recent interest rate decision in May. The BoE will release its latest decision at 12:00 p.m. BST (7:00 a.m. ET) today.
Carney’s forceful letter to Jenkin comes the day after former Conservative leaders Lord Howard and Iain Duncan Smith launched an aggressive attack on the Remain camp, calling out its “startling dishonesty” and the “woeful failure” of the Bank of England to present a fair economic argument.
Writing in the Telegraph on Wednesday night in conjunction with former chancellors Lord Norman Lamont and Lord Nigel Lawson, the open letter accused the BoE and Treasury of “peddling phoney forecasts and scare stories to back up the attempts of David Cameron and George Osborne to frighten the electorate into voting Remain.”
The letter goes on to say that Chancellor George’s Osborne’s proposed emergency budget to plug the “£30 billion ($43 billion) black hole” in the wake of a Brexit was “ludicrous,” and “scaremongering born of desperation. No responsible Chancellor would seriously propose such a thing.”
It concluded by accusing Remain of anchoring the UK to a “doomed” trading bloc:
The Remain campaign would have us believe the EU would impose tariff barriers in retribution, but the truth is we import nearly £70bn more from the continent than we sell there, so it would be an absurd act of economic self-harm for the EU to start a trade war with Britain.
The clearest risk is the prospect of remaining in the EU, locked to a doomed Eurozone. That is not a fanciful forecast, but an assessment of what is already happening, as well as the Union’s published plans for its future.
Responding on Twitter, Prime Minister David Cameron said when it comes to the economy it is important to listen to experts: “It’s deeply concerning that the Leave campaign is criticising the independent Bank of England,” he said. “We should listen to experts when they warn us of the dangers to our economy of leaving the European Union.”
A number of Conservative MPs have already revolted against Osborne’s proposed Brexit spending cuts, with at least 65 signing a letter saying they would not back such a move, calling them a “punishment.”
Polling suggests support for Vote Leave has surged in the last week. A TNS poll shows Leave seven points ahead of Remain, while YouGov and ICM polls show a similar lead.