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Accidental email blows Bank of England's secret EU exit plans

By Amy R. Connolly
Accidental email blows Bank of England's secret EU exit plans
British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to the media about his vision for the country after securing a majority for the Conservative Party and another five-year term in the 2015 UK General Election in London on May 08, 2015. Cameron has promised a public vote to decide if the country should remain in the European Union. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

LONDON, May 23 (UPI) -- A secret Bank of England task force is investigating the financial implications of the United Kingdom's possible exit from the European Union if a planned public referendum passes in the coming year or so.

Dubbed "Project Bookend," the bank accidentally blew its covert operation Friday when an email was mistakenly sent to The Guardian, detailing information about the task force as well as how media questions regarding the so-called Brexit -- a British exit from the EU -- should be addressed.

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The email stated Bank of England Deputy Governor Sir Jon Cunliffe will lead the task force. It was sent to four top bank executives. The bank's spokesman, Jeremy Harrison, accidentally forwarded it to an editor at The Guardian.

In a statement Friday, the BOE said it "should not come as a surprise that the Bank is undertaking such work about a stated government policy."

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"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," the statement read. "It 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."

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The email said Project Bookend should remain secret and not be publicly discussed, even to the BOE's head of the monetary assessment and strategy division. It also stated the media should be told "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 Bank."

Prime Minister David Cameron's promise to allow the public to vote on whether the country should stay in the EU has drawn much criticism, including concerns it would cause damage to the U.K. economy. The vote could come as early as 2016.

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