Jacob Rees-Mogg was caught in a vicious argument with the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, in a row over Brexit bias – before the public even had a chance to vote on EU membership, accordixitng to unearthed reports.
Mr Carney has been a controversial figure as the governor of Britain’s central bank and was first appointed in 2012. Even before he took on the role, Mr Carney openly disagreed with the Bank of England’s Executive Director and accused him of not having “a proper understanding of the facts” of bank regulation. He is also believed to have been paid £100,000 more than his predecessor. The outgoing governor has also received a wide range of criticism over his stance on Brexit.
Mr Carney regularly claimed Brexit would damage the British economy.
Tory MP Mr Rees-Mogg – now serving as the Leader of the House of Commons – criticised the banker even before the EU referendum.
According to The Guardian, the Brexiteer MP claimed it was wrong for the Bank to pass judgement on the political matter of Brexit in 2016.
He dubbed the Bank of England “a creature of the government” at a time when leading Remainer David Cameron stood at the helm of Number 10.
Mr Rees-Mogg said he thought the Bank was being pressured by the former Chancellor George Osbourne to downplay the benefits of leaving the EU.
At the Treasury select committee back in May 2016, Mr Rees-Mogg cornered Mr Carney, and asked: “Don’t you have a responsibility to be apolitical?”
Mr Carney said: “We are apolitical, which may be inconvenient for you, but to suggest otherwise is to try to undermine that.”
Mr Rees-Mogg hit back: “I do suggest otherwise.”
Mr Carney replied: “Then you try to undermine that.”
The Conservative MP then asked if the Bank of England would provide its thought on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ’new economics’ speech.
Mr Carney had a blunt response: “I don’t think that’s worth a reply.”
The spat continued, and Mr Rees-Mogg argued: “Did the Bank of England think it was worth risking its reputation for the sake of impartiality?”
Mr Carney replied that the Bank was aware of its responsibilities and that it maintained its “professional objectives”.
He then spun the debate back to those who questioned the Bank and claimed individuals who queried it “should consider their motivations and their judgements”.
Writing in The Independent at the time, political commentator John Rentoul concluded: “It would have been straightforward for the Bank to have said that the referendum was a political decision and that it would not comment on it at all.
“Rees-Mogg’s questioning was a model of cross-examination.”
The feud between the two men has continued to rage on over the years, with the Conservative MP frequently implying Mr Carney had become “politically involved”.
Speaking to Sky News in 2018, Mr Rees-Mogg tore the governor apart once again.
He said: “Mark Carney is a second-tier Canadian politician who failed to get on in Canadian politics who then got a job in the UK.
“I don’t think he is greatly respected. He’s been deeply politicised to the damage of the Bank’s reputation.”
The then chair of the European Research Group then took the opportunity in 2018 to tell LBC how Mr Carney was being “quite hysterical about Brexit and can’t be taken seriously” as a result.
He added that the Governor was a “political apparatchik” and a “wailing banshee”, while others dubbed him “the high priest of Project Fear”.
Yet, Mr Carney told The Daily Telegraph only last week that Brexit would force Britain to consider its domestic economic policies, which could be seen as a “conceptual positive” and acknowledged how Boris Johnson’s electoral success has prompted a “rebound in business confidence” within the UK.
Andrew Bailey is due to take over as Governor in March.
He was former Chancellor Sajid Javid’s favoured candidate and was chosen for the role by Mr Johnson.