GIVEN the ruling Conservatives’ seeming penchant for pulling the wool over the electorate’s eyes on Brexit, it was heartening last week to hear Mark Carney deliver some home truths.

Unsurprisingly, the Tories did not seem to like much of what the former Bank of England governor had to say.

However, it is surely difficult to argue in any way with the realities which Mr Carney highlighted.

Mr Carney, who was governor of the Bank of England between 2013 and 2020, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the fall in the pound following the UK’s departure from the European Union had added to “inflationary pressure”.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has certainly driven up food and energy prices.

However, commenting on the UK’s situation, Mr Carney observed that Brexit was also helping to fuel inflation and had “slowed the pace at which the economy can grow”.

Underlining the impact of Brexit, and the associated “longstanding shock to productivity”, he added: “The economy is operating at a level above its capacity. That’s adding to the inflationary pressures that we are getting from the war in Ukraine and elsewhere and the Bank needs to slow the economy, which is why it is raising interest rates.”

He observed the pound had fallen “sharply” against other currencies after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and “hasn’t recovered”.

Mr Carney said: “If I can actually cast your mind back to a few years ago, this is what we said was going to happen, which is that the exchange rate would go down, it would stay down, that would add to inflationary pressure.”

He added: “The economy’s capacity would go down for a period of time because of Brexit, that would add to inflationary pressure, and we would have a situation – which is the situation we have today – where the Bank of England has to raise interest rates despite the fact that the economy is going into recession.”

The Bank of England has raised UK base rates from a record low of 0.1 per cent late last year to 3%.

Sterling’s relative value is there for all to see. And, yes, Brexit did indeed make the pound tumble. Anyone who doubts this can take a look at a graph.

The pound was trading close to $1.50 on June 23, 2016, ahead of the EU membership referendum result. Financial markets had largely factored in a Remain vote and, as the first results started to come in late that night and into the early hours of the next morning, sterling plummeted.

The pound sank further over the months that followed.

Then there was a period of ups and downs, with fears of a no-deal Brexit hampering the pound severely from time to time as the Conservatives seemed to take great delight in sabre-rattling at the EU.

Sterling regained the $1.40 mark for a while in the early part of 2021 but then started tumbling again. By late summer this year, it had become mired below $1.20.

In the wake of former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget in late September, the pound fell to an all-time low of $1.0327.

It was last night trading below $1.16, with the near-$1.50 levels ahead of the emergence of the Brexit vote result now a distant memory.

For anyone who does not know, and it appears some of the ruling Tories might not, a weaker pound makes imports more expensive, thereby fuelling inflation.

In terms of Mr Carney’s observations, it really is very difficult indeed to see why senior Conservatives appear unable to either grasp or accept them.

If simple facts and economics elude the Tories, we should perhaps worry even more about their ability to oversee the economy, although it is worth noting that concerns on this front should already be at a very elevated level.

That said, there is obviously politics at play. And the UK Government appeared to do its utmost once again last week to paint a picture that Brexit could not possibly have damaged the UK economy.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman responded to Mr Carney’s comments as follows: “What we are seeing is challenges caused by the pandemic and by war in Europe which have been driving factors in terms of inflation, and we’re seeing high inflation in a number of countries around the world.”

Asked if he was denying Brexit had caused financial issues, the spokesman said: “Our focus is on ensuring we have stability and fiscal credibility. That’s what the Chancellor and the Prime Minister are focused on rather than on a decision taken a number of years ago where people made a clear decision.”

Is the Government actually using the need to focus on a response to the crisis triggered by the mini-Budget of Mr Kwarteng and former prime minister Liz Truss as a diversionary tactic, to avoid taking responsibility for the UK’s disastrous Brexit?

It is also interesting to see the Tory hard Brexit, and all the attendant woe, brushed off as a “decision taken a number of years ago”.

Brexit is a decision that is currently having a huge effect and will continue to do so. Therefore, the spin on this front is beyond pathetic.

As an aside, Mr Carney’s comments also triggered a thought that the current top brass at the Bank of England was perhaps being a little too quiet on the Brexit front, given the importance of this effect in policymaking. People will have different opinions on this. However, it might be good to hear a little bit more noise on this front from the Bank, particularly given the Government’s refusal to even acknowledge the massive adverse consequences of Brexit, let alone accept responsibility for them.

Last week was, of course, certainly not the first time that Mr Carney had upset Brexiter Tories by telling things as they are.

In May 2018, when he was still governor of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, Mr Carney cited “Brexit effects” and told MPs on the House of Commons’ Treasury Committee: “Real household incomes are about £900 per household lower than we forecast in May of 2016, which is a lot of money.”

Conservative MP and Brexit enthusiast Jacob Rees-Mogg declared then that Mr Carney was “crying wolf”.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who has in between times been in and back out of the Cabinet with a now-scrapped job for a while of minister for Brexit opportunities (and Government efficiency), was quick to cross swords with Mr Carney again last week.

This time, Mr Rees-Mogg declared Mr Carney’s comments were “bizarre”.

He said: “To blame this on Brexit is bizarre and only an ultra Remainiac would make such a bogus argument.”

People can make their own minds up about what is bogus and bizarre.

It could be argued that the Conservatives’ creation of a minister for Brexit opportunities role was somewhat bizarre. The seeming lack of success in finding any opportunities was anything but bizarre, of course.

There was nothing in Mr Carney’s comments about Brexit, sterling, the UK economy and inflation, however, that could in any way be viewed as “bizarre” or “bogus”.

Just plain and simple Brexit home truths, of the type that tend to make some of the ruling Conservatives spit the dummy.

Read more by Ian McConnell:

Hopes of end to Brexit stupidity under Braverman and Sunak look misplaced

Austerity-driven Tories fall back on ingrained proclivities to make dire situation worse

Rishi Sunak a serious player on the economy? Really? Relative to who?