spells out that if anyone asks about the project, the taskforce must
say the investigation has nothing to do with the referendum, saying
only that staff are involved in examining “a broad range of
European economic issues” that concern the Bank.
revelation is likely to embarrass the bank governor, Mark
who has overhauled the central bank’s operations and promised
greater transparency over its decision-making.
are now likely to ask whether the Bank intended to inform parliament
that a major review of Britain’s prospects outside the EU was being
undertaken by the institution that acts as the UK’s main financial
regulator. Carney is also likely to come under pressure within the
Bank to reveal whether there are other undercover projects underway.
are likely to have kept the project under wraps to avoid entering the
highly charged debate around the EU
which has jumped to the top of the political agenda since the
Conservatives secured an overall majority. Many business leaders and
pro-EU campaigners have warned that “Brexit” would hit British
exports and damage the standing of the City of London.
report could prove incendiary, but without a public notice
advertising the Bank’s research project, parliament and the public
would be unable to demand its publication.
email indicates that a small group of senior staff are to examine the
effect of a Brexit under the authority of Sir Jon Cunliffe, who as
deputy director for financial stability has responsibility for
monitoring the risk of another market crash.
also sits on the board of the City regulator, the Prudential
Talbot, the head of the monetary assessment and strategy division, is
involved in Project Bookend, drawing on his past work as an adviser
on European economic policy.
email, from Cunliffe’s private secretary to four senior executives,
was written on 21 May and forwarded by mistake to a Guardian editor
by the Bank’s head of press, Jeremy Harrison.
says: “Jon’s proposal, which he has asked me to highlight to you,
is that no email is sent to James’s team or more broadly around the
Bank about the project.”
continues: “James can tell his team that he is working on a
short-term project on European economics in International [division]
which will last a couple of months. This will be in-depth work on a
broad range of European economic issues. Ideally he would then say no
email states that Talbot planned to inform staff on Thursday.
message goes on to propose that questions from “other parties (eg:
the press) about “whether this was a project to look at the
referendum”, should be given the answer “that there is a lot
going on in Europe in
the next couple of months – pointing to some of the specific
European economic issues (eg: Greece) that would be of concern to the
the senior staff listed on the email and aware of the project are:
Iain de Weymarn, Mark Carney’s private secretary since last month;
Nicola Anderson, head of risk assessment in the financial stability
department; Phil Evans, director of the international division; and
Jenny Scott, executive director communications.
Bank spokesman said: “It is stated government policy that there
will be a renegotiation and national referendum on the UK’s
membership of the European
some point. It should not come as a surprise that there are a range
of economic and financial issues that arise in the context of the
renegotiation and national referendum. It is one of the Bank’s
responsibilities to assess those that relate to its objectives.
is not sensible to talk about this work publicly, in advance. But as
with work done prior to the Scottish referendum, we will disclose the
details of such work at the appropriate time. While it is unfortunate
that this information has entered the public domain in this way, the
Bank will maintain this approach.”