Brexit: Mervyn King blasts ‘incompetence’ of preparations | Politics

The former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has blasted the government over Brexit, saying it has been left without a credible bargaining position. In damning comments to the BBC, Lord King said it “beggars belief” that Britain, one of the world’s leading economies, had found itself in a situation where the country was being told to take a course of action or face catastrophe.

King suggested blame should be shared by the government, parliament as whole and those on Whitehall who were tasked with making key decisions.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned he is “strongly opposed” to UK proposals, which he claimed would undermine the European project and the single market. Chancellor Angela Merkel has told German business leaders that she could not fully rule out no deal “because we still have no result” from the talks.

King, who has spoken favourably of Brexit in the past, tore into the last-minute preparations for a no-deal Brexit, warning they had left Britain without a credible bargaining position.

He made the comments after ministers confirmed efforts were under way to stockpile medicines and ensure an “adequate” food supply if talks fail.

“Frankly, if a government cannot take action to prevent some of these catastrophic outcomes, whatever position you take on the EU, it illustrates a whole lack of preparation,” King said.

“It doesn’t tell us anything about whether the policy of staying in the EU is good or bad, it tells us everything about the incompetence of the preparation for it.”

Asked if that meant the government had been incompetent, he said: “The group of people tasked with trying to make decisions on all of this is parliament as a whole not just the government, and the civil service, who have brought us to a position where we are now being told that we have to accept a certain course of action otherwise it would be catastrophic.

“Now it beggars belief that the sixth biggest economy in the world should get itself into that position.”

King, who was in charge of the Bank from 2003 until 2013, said credible plans should have been put in place to leave without a deal because Britain could not impose one on the EU. Such plans could not be drawn up in six months and would take several years.

King said he feared the biggest risk to the UK was that the referendum had failed to resolve the issue of Brexit and it “isn’t going to go away”.

Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, will appear before the european scrutiny committee of the Commons alongside the PM’s Europe adviser, Olly Robbins, on Wednesday afternoon.

With the Press Association

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