The Bank of England and the Treasury "behaved disgracefully" during the referendum campaignby Alex Dean / January 30, 2017 / Leave a comment
The Treasury and the Bank of England “came out with nonsense, and damaged both their reputations.”
In an exclusive interview with Prospect Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset and leading Brexit campaigner, had stern words for British institutions which, as he sees it, backed “Remain.” Both the Treasury and the Bank “behaved disgracefully, using the authority of public money, public position, to influence the debate.” They “are seen as less good institutions than they were before,” he said.
In the run-up to the referendum, George Osborne said he would respond to a Brexit vote with a heavy dose of further austerity. This “punishment budget” was, Rees Mogg said, “Bonkers”—and so “a Godsend to the Leave Campaign”
Rees-Mogg, who has been an MP since 2010, is one of the country’s most high-profile Eurosceptics. A member of the European Scrutiny Committee for six years, he commands great respect among those in the “Leave” camp. Last week, after Rees-Mogg gave a speech in the House of Commons, David Davis pointed out: “As ever, my right honourable friend speaks for England.”
When I asked him whether the “Leave” campaign misled voters also, with its pledge of £350m weekly for the NHS, he said “The figure was not my preferred figure, I thought they should have used the net, rather than the gross.”
When the government triggers Article 50, a two-year countdown will begin, after which Britain will be out—unless it secures transitional arrangements. This has given rise to talk of a “cliff-edge” if a UK-EU deal is not struck in time. Rees-Mogg conceded that “leaving the EU without a deal is not an impossible position to be in by any means,” but stressed: “I think it’s strongly in the interests of our European friends and allies” to give us one. If no deal can be reached, will Britain cope? “Of course we could, of course we could! The EU as a percentage of our trade has been declining.”
The civil service will be essential to making trade deals happen post-Brexit, but it has been the subject of controversy in recent weeks, with Britain’s permanent representative to the EU, Ivan Rogers, resigning—citing “muddled thinking.” Brexiteers are “A very small number in the civil service…