Jan 16, 3:39 PM EST

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney says the central bank remains ready to protect economic growth in the face of pressures caused by Britain's departure from the European Union



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LONDON (AP) -- The Bank of England remains ready to protect economic growth in the face of pressures caused by Britain's departure from the European Union, the central bank's top executive said Monday as investors waited for the country's prime minister to lay out her vision for Brexit.

The bank's Monetary Policy Committee has the discretion to balance its legally mandated goal of controlling inflation against the need for economic stability, Governor Mark Carney said in a speech at the London School of Economics.

"In exceptional circumstances, trade-offs between real stability and inflation can arise that monetary policy is required to balance," Carney said. "This is now the case, given the decision of the people of the United Kingdom to leave the EU."

His remarks, delivered as British Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to deliver her own speech Tuesday setting out her Brexit blueprint, suggest the bank is ready to act to stave off economic uncertainty.

Under pressure to reveal her plans for negotiating with the EU, May is expected to call for a "truly global Britain" that is more open to the world.

But reports in major newspapers over the weekend indicated that May plans a clean break with the 28-nation bloc, which sent the pound tumbling Monday on concern about how the withdrawal would affect trade, investment and economic growth.

The pound has lost almost a fifth of its value against the dollar since British voters in July approved a referendum to leave the EU.

Despite concerns about inflation, the Bank of England in August reduced its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percent and increased asset purchases to ease concerns about the vote.

The bank's actions helped prevent a slowdown in the economy that would have cost about 250,000 jobs, Carney said Monday.

"There remains an element of discretion in how the (Monetary Policy Committee) delivers its inflation objective," he said. "That is because the people of the U.K. also have reason to value stable growth, jobs and incomes."

With the government preparing to open formal exit talks with the EU by the end of March, the bank is prepared to respond.

"Whatever transpires, the MPC will manage monetary policy to achieve the inflation target in a sustainable manner consistent with the preferences and instructions of the people of the United Kingdom," Carney said.

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