Carney for PM? Bank of England governor praised for Brexit response

 
Jake Cordell
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Carney has been praised for his response to the EU referendum
Carney has been praised for his response to the EU referendum (Source: Getty)

With political crisis engulfing Westminster in the wake of the EU referendum, businesses have increasingly had to rely on other sources of authority to fill the void.

David Cameron has been conspicuously absent from the big stage since he resigned in the hours after the vote, while the Conservative leadership race has hijacked much of the decision making in Whitehall, most notably with the decision on airport expansion being kicked down the road again.

In the vacuum, one man has risen to the fore - governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney.

Since the referendum, Carney has made no fewer than three set-piece interventions. On Friday morning, hours after the results were announced - it probably would have been a matter of only minutes if he didn't have to wait for Cameron to resign first - he announced £250bn in extra liquidity to reassure the markets.

Last week, he also helped nudge sterling down a little further as he told the markets to get ready for another cut to interest rates or a fresh bout of quantitative easing in a "whatever it takes" speech. And this morning, he rowed back on proposals for tighter capital requirements on banks to unlock £150bn in potential credit for households, businesses and the real economy.

Trying his hardest to be positive despite talking of a "material economic slowdown", the governor said he did not want the "opportunities" of the Brexit vote to be lost due to a lack of cash.

His cool-head while others were losing theirs has won praise from across the spectrum. City grandee, David Buik said Carney's statesmanlike approach stood in stark contrast to the apparent lack of action at the Treasury.

Former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke also said Carney had been "left in charge of the shop", as his own party squabbles over its next leader. Former British ambassador to the US, Christopher Meyer said he had "the impression that the UK is being governed only by the governor of the Bank of England"

Danny Blanchflower, a former member of the monetary policy committee (MPC), who believed Carney's days were numbered as governor after clashes with the Leave campaign before the vote, said he had been "impressed" with the Canadian's swift response.

The business community, exacerbated by Westminster's antics in the past 12 days, also rallied behind the governor. Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), said: "The governor of the Bank of England, once again, is offering clear leadership and boosting business confidence at a time of political and economic uncertainty."

Before the vote the Institute of Directors (IoD), perhaps anticipating a political black hole, said: "British businesses will be looking to the independent Bank of England for reassurance that it will do everything it can to maintain stability of the financial system."

Michael Martins, at economist at the business group added today: "Mark Carney has led the charge in 'Project Reassurance' at a time when confidence in the future will need to be anchored in British institutions' credibility and forward planning."

Some might be disappointed Carney, long rumoured to have political ambitions back in Canada, didn't make it onto the nominations list for the Conservative leadership race.

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