The Bank of England has said it plans to research the economic risks of Britain leaving the EU. The admission confirms an email about the project that accidentally went to the wrong address.
In a statement on its website, the Bank of England confirmed reports based on the contents of an email that was inadvertently sent to an editor at "The Guardian" newspaper.
"Today, information related to planned confidential bank work on the potential implications of a renegotiation and national referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union made its way into the public domain," the statement, released late on Friday, said.
"It should not come as a surprise that the bank is undertaking such work about a stated government policy," it said, adding that it was "one of the bank's responsibilities" to assess such matters.
The bank said it would release more details of the research "at the appropriate time."
"The Guardian" had reported that the email, written by an aide to a senior bank official, contained injunctions to keep the project largely secret even within Britain's central bank itself.
The paper said the email had been sent inadvertently to one of its editors by a member of the Bank's press office.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was re-elected on May 7, has vowed to come up with a package of reforms to the terms of Britain's EU membership before holding a referendum on whether to stay in the bloc by the end of 2017.
Cameron has said that he would back staying in the EU if he can push through the reforms, which include making it harder for EU migrants to be granted welfare benefits in Britain.
Current opinion polls suggest that most British voters will choose to remain part of the bloc, amid concerns from many businesspeople that they could lose export markets and that the so-called "Brexit" could have a negative impact on Britain's financial services industry.
Germany's Deutsche Bank said earlier this month it had started initial preparations in case Britain did decide to leave the EU. The bank has large operations in Britain.
tj/shs (Reuters, AFP)