Anti-Brexit Predictions Were Our ‘Michael Fish’ Moment, Admits Bank of England as UK Economy Surges

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Andrew Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, has admitted that his profession is “in crisis” as Britain’s economy is hailed as the “strongest in the world”.

During the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU), the central bank came to be seen as a key ally of George Osborne, who acted as “scaremonger-in-chief” for the Remain campaign.

Persistent claims by Governor Mark Carney that a Brexit vote could hit growth and tip the economy into recession, which were said to lend weight to doom-laden forecasts produced by the Osborne Treasury, were subsequently dismissed as “very flawed and very partisan” by analysts from Cambridge University.

Statistics show that growth has in fact accelerated since the Brexit vote. The FTSE 100 has broken records six days in a row, with the UK services PMI, a leading indicator of economic health, at a 17-month high and the UK manufacturing PMI at a 30-month high.

John Longworth, co-chairman of Leave Means Leave, welcomed the “avalanche of upbeat data, which demonstrates the continuing strength of the UK economy and confounds the predictions of the referendum doom-mongers”, reports the Daily Mail.

Haldane, a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, drew parallels between the present situation and forecasters’ failure to predict the financial crisis in 2007, comparing their inaccurate Brexit prophecies to “Michael Fish getting up [and] saying [there’s] no hurricane coming”.

Haldane was referring to an infamous weather forecast by BBC meteorologist Michael Fish in 1987. The presenter opened by saying, “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard that there’s a hurricane on the way. Well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t.”

A few hours later, the south-east was hit by the most powerful storm in three centuries, affecting three million homes and uprooting millions of trees. Winds reached 120 miles per hour before measuring devices were overwhelmed, sweeping buses and lorries off roads, and dashing the historic Shanklin Pier into the sea.

Haldane further confessed to a “disconnect between what we read in the papers about the degree of political and policy uncertainty, which by any historical metric is at high levels, and what we have seen from the economy and financial markets, which have actually been remarkably placid”.

Research by the News Watch media monitoring organisation found that mainstream media outlets such as the BBC have been overwhelmingly negative since the Brexit vote, with fewer than a fifth of speakers invited to participate in the flagship ‘Brexit Collection’ of post-referendum Radio 4 programming being supportive of the Leave vote.


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