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Report on Business Bank of England’s chief economist says British companies’ Brexit worries ‘up sharply’

British businesses are more worried about Brexit uncertainty than was the case a few months ago, the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane said on Wednesday.

“While mentions of Brexit have fallen from their referendum peak, it is notable that they have picked up sharply over the past few months, with measures of uncertainty following suit,” Mr. Haldane said in a speech at Estonia’s central bank.

Mr. Haldane was referring to an analysis of businesses conversations with its network of regional staff.

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Last month, the central bank raised interest rates to 0.75 per cent, only its second increase since before the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Economists polled by Reuters do not expect the Bank of England to raise rates again until after Britain leaves the European Union in March next year.

The bulk of Mr. Haldane’s speech focused on how central bank communication could win public trust at a time of widespread distrust of traditional institutions.

He defended the central bank’s policy of “forward guidance” on interest rates, which he said had given households and businesses a useful steer, even if some financial market participants found it lacking.

“Pricing interest rates in financial markets was not the main purpose of forward guidance in the first place,” he said. “By allaying fears about too-rapid a rise in rates, it is likely to have encouraged spending and supported the economy,” he added.

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