Ex-Bank boss calls on Govt to put pensions before Brexit

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Former Bank of England governor Lord Mervyn King says politicians are obsessed with Brexit to the detriment of more fundamental issues such as pension saving and long-term care.

Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight programme last night, Lord King said there was a risk “big questions” will not be addressed if the sole focus is the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

He said: “My biggest worry about economic policy in the next few years is that all the politicians seem obsessed with Brexit.

“And actually, the biggest problems we face now are not Brexit, it’s about how we can reduce the trade deficit, how we’re going to save enough as a nation to pay for our pensions… how we’re going to save enough to pay for care for the elderly… how we are going to finance the NHS.”

He added if politicians only focused on Brexit over the next two or three years, “then those big questions will not receive the attention which they deserve”.

On the issue of Scottish independence, Lord King said the challenge was less about currency, and more to do with public finances.

He said: “It has… the people, it has a capital city, a history and culture, it could be an independent country. The question is, does it want to be given the consequences of it?

“And if the oil price remains low and if they lose the money which is transferred from the rest of the UK to Scotland, then they would have to make that up in their own budget, but that’s a consequence of deciding to be financially independent, you end up paying for yourself.

“And it would be a challenge to borrow on the international market if Scotland decided to run a large budget deficit. I think that would be expensive, the interest rate would go up.”