John McDonnell confirms Bank of England would stay independent under Labour as he calls for higher pay for striking workers

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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell attended the strike at the Bank of England (Source: Jasper Jolly)

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has reiterated his stance that a Labour government would not strip the Bank of England of its independence as he called for governor Mark Carney to increase his pay offer to striking workers.

Speaking to City A.M. at a picket line by striking workers outside the Bank, McDonnell said: “The Bank of England will maintain its independence but what I’d be expecting Mark Carney to do, not just when I take over, but today, is to accept that the pay cap is not working.”

In the past the Labour leadership has raised the possibility of taking control of setting interest rates from the Bank of England as well as "people's quantitative easing". However, in October last year he committed to keeping the bank “sacrosanct”.

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There will be no changes to the Bank of England if he is chancellor, McDonnell said. Labour would aim to find a like-for-like replacement for Carney, he added.

He said: “I’ve worked extremely cooperatively with Mark Carney and I think he’s the sort of calibre of person that we want in the future.”

Carney is due to leave the Bank in at the end of June 2019, after joining in November 2012.

The governor has been forced to contend with the first strike on Threadneedle Street in 50 years – and the first since Labour chancellor Gordon Brown made the Bank independent in 1997.

Read more: Bank independence 20 years on: Let’s hear it for the unsung heroes

Workers in the security, maintenance and hospitality functions at the Bank are pushing for an increase in their pay after what they describe as a “derisory” pay offer.

The Bank of England currently abides by the Treasury’s public sector pay cap of one per cent per year, although it technically has the ability to raise pay for its workers without government approval.

Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary at Unite the union, said the workers rejected the Bank’s move in “imposing a deal without even consulting our membership”.

Read more: Bank of England staff to protest on Threadneedle Street in row over pay

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