Mark Carney defends 'Brexit risk' stance

By Robert Plummer
Business reporter, BBC News

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media captionBank of England accused of becoming politically involved in EU debate

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has robustly defended his stance on the UK's EU referendum debate and accused one of his prominent critics of trying to "undermine" the Bank's remit.

The comments came in testy exchanges during Mr Carney's evidence to the Treasury select committee.

Mr Carney was answering questions from Jacob Rees-Mogg, who favours Brexit.

He said the Bank had a responsibility to the British people "who don't want risks kept from them".

Earlier this month, the Bank of England gave its starkest warning yet that a UK vote to leave the EU could hit the economy.

Mr Carney warned that the risks of leaving "could possibly include a technical recession".

Vote Leave campaigners strongly criticised Mr Carney, with Mr Rees-Mogg calling for him to resign.

'Not an election'

During the hearing, Mr Rees-Mogg argued that the Bank of England would not comment on opposition economic policy during a general election campaign, so should not comment on the effects of a UK departure from the EU during the referendum campaign.

He told the governor: "It's very convenient that you're giving out the same propaganda as the Chancellor [George Osborne]."

Mr Carney rejected the analogy, saying: "This is not a general election, Mr Rees-Mogg."

He went on to say: "We have a responsibility to discharge our remit and we have a wider responsibility to the British people, who don't want risks kept from them."

Mr Carney said the Bank's remit was to deliver "low, stable, predictable inflation".

"It may be inconvenient for you," he told Mr Rees-Mogg, "but we have made it more likely that we will bring inflation back to target, whatever the outcome of the referendum, sooner and more sustainably, and that will be a better economic outcome."

He continued: "To suggest otherwise is to try to undermine that."

Mr Rees-Mogg disputed Mr Carney's answer, saying: "I do suggest otherwise."

The governor replied: "And so you try to undermine that."

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