Bank chief Mark Carney calls for EU vote ‘soon’

AN IN-OUT referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union should take place “as soon as necessary”, according to the Bank of England governor.

Carney said one of the big advantages the UK economy is access to the European market. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Mark Carney said businesses are continuing to invest and hire despite political uncertainty connected to either the recent election or future referendum.

He said he is sure the Government will act with “appropriate speed” in negotiations over the UK’s membership and put forward an appropriate question.

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The Conservatives have pledged to have a vote on the issue before the end of 2017.

Asked if the referendum had resulted in uncertainty among business bosses, Mr Carney told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We talk to a lot of bosses and there has been an awareness of some of this political uncertainty - whether because of the election or because of the referendum.

“What they’ve been telling us, and we see it in the statistics, is they have not yet acted on that uncertainty - or to put it another way, they are continuing to invest, they are continuing to hire.”

Asked why productivity has not therefore increased, Mr Carney said: “It should start to move up.

“One of the big advantages this economy has is access to the European market. It’s the largest economy in the world, it’s our largest per destination, it’s our largest investor in the United Kingdom.”

Pressed on whether he would like to see the uncertainty end as soon as possible, Mr Carney replied: “I think it’s in the interests of everybody that there is clarity about the process and the question and the decision.”

Mr Carney said he would not put a specific timetable on the issue, noting: “The Government has made it clear it’s a priority. I’m sure the Government will act with appropriate speed in developing the negotiations and putting forward an appropriate question.”

Asked if he meant he would like to see the referendum sooner rather than later, Mr Carney said: “As soon as necessary. That’s as much as you’re going to get.”