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MPs demand Bank governor shortlist made public amid cronyism fears

Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England sips water during an Inflation Report Press Conference at the Bank of England in the City of London, Thursday, May 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Mark Carney, Bank of England governor, will step down in 2020. Photo: Matt Dunham/AP

MPs are calling for the shortlist to be the next Bank of England governor to be made public, amid fears politics could trump merit if the decision is made “behind closed doors.”

In a letter published on Monday, 28 politicians from across parties have written to UK chancellor Sajid Javid urging him to release the list of potential replacements to Mark Carney, who will step down in 2020.

Polling by the campaign group Positive Money, which coordinated the letter, showed 30% of voters said they did not trust Javid to choose the “right person” for the job.

Only one in five said they trusted the chancellor to make the correct decision, though around half of more than 2,000 people surveyed said they did not know or had no opinion either way.

READ MORE: Recession fears ease as UK economy grows faster than expected

The governor role is one of the most high-profile and influential roles in the UK economy, with the central bank responsible for maintaining monetary and financial stability, including setting interest rates.

Carney has been frank in highlighting the Bank’s analysis of the risks to the UK economy from a no-deal Brexit, making him a target for Brexiteer MPs and campaigners.

The MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is now leader of the House of Commons for the government, once called him a “wailing banshee.”

Positive Money claims there are fears the government could “install a political ally who did not otherwise make the shortlist,” and suggested the list be made public with candidates’ consent.

“With so much at stake, it’s crucial that the appointment of the next governor is made on merit, not narrow political expediency,” the MPs said in the letter.

“For public trust in the central bank to be upheld, the process for choosing Mark Carney’s successor must be fair, open and transparent.”

READ MORE: Chancellor unveils spending spree at fastest rate in 15 years despite Brexit

Positive Money added in a statement: “Publishing the shortlist with candidates’ consent would reveal what options are available to the government and potentially prevent the appointment of an unpopular choice.

“Doing so would also allow parliament to offer scrutiny during the appointment process.”

Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, said the next governor would “wield huge power over our economy” at a crucial time for the UK economy.

“With the political situation so uncertain we cannot leave such a critical appointment to be decided behind closed doors by the chancellor and Number 10.”