Jacob Rees-Mogg and Mark Carney’s clash at this morning’s Treasury Committee was a masterclass in passive aggressiveness veiled in pleases and thankyous. From the words being said, it wasn’t clear there was any enmity in the room. But Carney’s expressions couldn’t have made things clearer: there is certainly no love lost between these two. Before the referendum, Rees-Mogg said Carney had come under ‘undue influence’ during the referendum campaign from the Treasury. Today, the Tory MP went on the attack in the politest way possible as he tried his trump card question once again about whether Carney would have conducted himself in the same way during a general election.
Last time, Carney batted away the question deftly. And this time around, once again, Rees-Mogg didn’t get the answer he was looking for. Carney told us, for those who weren’t aware, that the referendum wasn’t a general election. Instead, he said, the Brexit vote was a ‘single binary decision’, implying that this was different from a normal election when the Bank would not intervene in saying how it would react to manifesto policies. He also insisted the Bank observed the purdah period, with the exception of the MPC minutes. But Rees-Mogg didn’t stop there and he tried again to score a hit on Carney, asking him:
‘Did the Bank of England consider whether it was in the public interest to risk its reputation for impartiality’
Once again, Rees-Mogg didn’t fluster Carney who insisted the Bank was perfectly capable of discharging its duty. And in a swipe at Rees-Mogg, he finished by saying that those who cast into question the Bank’s role should ‘consider their own motivations and their judgements’. Neither Rees-Mogg or Carney looked happy with the outcome and neither scored a hit on the other but that wasn’t for lack of trying.