The Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has become a bogeyman figure for ‘Leave’ campaigners, who have vigorously attacked him over his involvement in the EU referendum campaign.
For the past three months, Carney has played the role of the Brexit camp’s punching bag.
Pro-Leave MPs have accused him of partisanship for his numerous and increasingly loud warnings over the future of the UK’s economy in the event Britain leaves the EU.
But why do Brexiteers target Carney when other economists have issued similar warnings? RT digs around to find out.
What has Carney been saying?
Since March, the BoE governor has caused ire among the Leave campaign by publicly airing the Bank’s opinions on Brexit.
Carney initially became concerned about the volatile movements of the pound. When the sterling slumped on March 8, he declared that an exit from the EU would be “the biggest domestic risk to financial stability.”
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) March 8, 2016
In May, following warnings from the IMF and OECD over Brexit, the BoE made almost 100 mentions of the referendum in its quarterly Inflation Report.
Carney has also warned that a vote to leave the EU could cause a “technical recession” in the UK.
Why are Brexiteers so angry?
Leave campaigners argue the BoE should not comment on the EU referendum campaign because it is meant to be independent of government and never remarks on the economic policies of political parties before a General Election.
Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin wrote a strongly-worded letter to Carney this week saying as much.
“You are prohibited from making any public comment, or doing anything which could be construed as taking part in the referendum debate,” Jenkins wrote, before issuing a thinly-veiled threat.
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) June 13, 2016
“I very much hope you will avoid doing anything which could suggest you or the Bank have disregarded Parliament’s wishes,” he added.
Carney snapped back at Jenkins, arguing the Bank is only fulfilling its “statutory responsibilities” and that his views demonstrate a “fundamental misunderstanding of central bank independence.”
The EU referendum aside, Leave campaigners also reserve special vitriol for Carney over his previous career as a banker at Goldman Sachs, a bank widely blamed for having helped cause the 2008 financial crisis.
Are Brexiteers being fair?
Historical records uncovered by Bloomberg journalist Lucy Meakin indicate this isn’t the first time the BoE has intervened in an EU referendum.
In the run up to Britain’s first (and last) referendum on EU membership, BoE governor Gordon Richardson implored the electorate to vote in favor.
“I am hopeful that the outcome of the referendum will be positive and that thereafter this country will be able to play a full and active role among the nations of Europe,” Richardson said in a speech just three days before the vote.
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) June 15, 2016
“I must confess that I sometimes have to rub my eyes to be sure that I am not dreaming; that we really are deliberately engaged on a constitutional innovation as unsuitable and destabilizing as the referendum we now await,” he added.
Given that there is a precedent for the BoE intervening in referendum campaigns, the Leave campaign’s outrage doesn’t hold up.
But Carney’s career at one of the world’s most-criticized banks, on the other hand, is fair game.
With their latest video focusing on exactly this, it appears Vote Leave is prepared to go a few more rounds in the ring before throwing in the towel.
— Vote Leave (@vote_leave) June 16, 2016