Jun 16, 7:07 AM EDT

The Bank of England has kept its key interest rates on hold amid heightened uncertainty over whether the country will vote next week to leave the European Union


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LONDON (AP) -- The Bank of England has kept its key interest rates on hold amid heightened uncertainty over whether the country will vote next week to leave the European Union.

The central bank voted unanimously at its regular policy meeting to keep its key rate at a record low of 0.5 percent.

The minutes to the meeting, published Thursday, show that the policymakers were concerned that a vote to leave "could materially alter the outlook for output and inflation."

The June 23 referendum represents a huge amount of uncertainty for markets, businesses and the central bank. Independent economists say a vote to leave the EU could cause a drop in the pound of as much as 20 percent and push the economy back into recession.

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