The Bank of England has refuted Scottish finance minister John Swinney’s claim that the Scottish government is having technical discussions with the Bank over proposals about future monetary arrangements north of the border ahead of the independence vote.
Following Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s comments on Wednesday about contingency plans around the future of the Scottish currency, Swinney said: ‘The Scottish government has had technical discussions with the Bank of England regarding our proposal for a currency union and we welcome their continued acknowledgement that the Bank will introduce whatever the politicians decide.’
However, the Bank categorically denied this yesterday, saying it is up for Westminster and the Scottish parliament to negotiate the design of any changes to UK monetary and financial arrangements.
‘The Bank notes the comments made by the finance cecretary of the Scottish government regarding technical discussions between officials of the Scottish government and the Bank of England,’ a spokesman said in a statement.
‘To be clear, consistent with its statement in December 2012, the Bank of England has not entered into discussions with representatives of the Scottish government about proposals for future monetary arrangements in Scotland.
‘As the governor said [on Wednesday], the design of any changes to UK monetary and financial arrangements would ultimately be a matter for negotiation between the Westminster and Scottish parliaments. The Bank of England will deliver whatever remit it is given.’
The Bank clarified that it has only answered technical questions from representatives of the Scottish government and added: ‘We have not entered a dialogue about the possibility of changing monetary arrangements for Scotland in future.’
Indeed, Carney was loath to discuss contingency plans when speaking at the release of the Bank’s quarterly inflation report this week, although he said it has plans in place for ‘various possibilities’.
Carney added: ‘It is never a good idea to talk about contingency plans in public other than to assure people we have contingency plans.’