MORTGAGE rates could rise if Britain left the EU, the Remain camp has warned after the Bank of England said the in-out referendum had heightened financial uncertainty and could create a credit crunch.

The Bank’s financial policy committee(FPC) said the value of the pound, which plummeted earlier this year amid Brexit fears, could weaken even further and have an impact on the cost and availability of finance for UK borrowers.

In the minutes from its latest policy meeting, the FPC said: "The committee assesses the risks around the referendum to be the most significant near-term domestic risks to financial stability."

It stressed how its outlook for the UK's financial stability had "deteriorated" since its previous meeting in November as dark clouds continue to circle over the global economy and the threat of Brexit disrupts the financial markets.

Lord Darling of Roulanish, the former Labour Chancellor, speaking for Stronger In Europe, described the FPC’s assessment as a stark warning, which would be a major worry for everyone whose job and income depended on the long-term health of Britain’s economy.

“This assessment makes it clear our economy would be more vulnerable and less resilient if we vote to leave the EU; leading to higher mortgage rates for families and higher interest rates for Britain’s businesses.

“This is not a report Leave campaigners can simply dismiss as ‘biased’ or ‘scaremongering’. It is a serious piece of work that should make everyone think twice about irresponsibly gambling with people’s jobs and livelihoods.”

The ex-Edinburgh MP, who led the Better Together campaign against Scottish independence, added: “It is clear from this report that Britain is stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU.”

But John Redwood, the former Conservative cabinet minister who is in favour of Brexit, said the FPC “have had to be very careful to remain neutral and they do seem to wade in on one side of this argument. For example, why do they ascribe the recent weakness in sterling to fears of Brexit but they don’t ascribe the reductions in interest rates the Government has to pay also to the possibility of Brexit? If it affects one, it surely affects the other”.

The Conservative MP said Britain would get £12 billion a year back from the EU if it left, which would help the balance of payments deficit. “So one of the beneficial consequences of Brexit once you stop the contributions(is) your balance of payments improves; it doesn’t weaken.”

Asked if Brexit would cause market instability, Mr Redwood said there was “endless volatility” already and there would be whether or not Britain left or stayed.

Meantime, former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael waded into the row over the latest warning from Vote Leave that Britain’s EU membership endangered families because dangerous criminals were allowed to enter the country,

The anti-EU campaign published a dossier of 50 EU citizens with criminal records for offences, including murder and rape, who were able to enter the UK in recent years.

The Remain camp branded the claims as “scaremongering of the worst kind”.

Mr Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, said Vote Leave’s use of the dossier “reeks of desperation”.

“Working with our European partners keeps Britain more secure; in the last year alone the Government has opted into further measures to ensure that we can share more information on criminals and clamp down on cross-border crime. From fighting cyber crime to terrorism we are stronger together.”

He added: “At the moment Britain has the best of both worlds; outside of the passport-free Schengen area but able to work closely with the other 27 EU Member States. It is frankly ludicrous to suggest that leaving the EU and all these mechanisms would help keep us safer.”