A former governor of the Bank of England has described the UK’s handling of Brexit as a “shambles”.
Mervyn King, who was the governor between 2003 and 2013, criticised the inability of the political classes to choose a version of Brexit to follow and said the atmosphere around negotiations was unnecessarily bad.
“I think it’s been a shambles since 2016,” King told LBC radio in the UK. “Parliament unable to decide which of eight or nine versions of Brexit, the failure to negotiate properly.”
King, who previously advocated for a no deal arrangement with the European Union, added: “If you rule out ‘no deal’ you haven’t got any negotiating position at all.”
He said the UK should have made a “pro-European case for Brexit” and offered all EU residents in the UK automatic rights of residence, rather than making it part of a negotiation.
“We could have done more to try to ensure we had access to education and research opportunities in Europe,” he added. “The atmosphere that was created in negotiations with Europe turned out to be very bad, there was no need for the atmosphere to be that bad.”
However, King felt disagreements between the UK and the European Union would have continued to rankle had Brexit not happened.
“I don’t think we would have wanted to follow down the path which the European Central Bank and European Commission want to take them, which is towards a fiscal and political union,” he said. “I think it would have led to an even greater debate at home about ‘why should our tax and spending policy in Britain be determined by the rest of Europe?'”
King was also asked about former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s brief period in power.
“I do think we got a bit hysterical,” he said. “I can understand to some extent why and that the government appeared to be hell bent on cutting taxes without any proper analysis or framework, jettisoning the way government was being organised.
“I understand that, but I don’t think the economic consequences were that bad. And frankly, they’ve gone away, they’ve disappeared now.
“What we should boast about as a country is that we had a government that we didn’t think was doing very well, it lasted 44 days, we got rid of it, and no-one got hurt.”