David Prosser: Cameron gets a warning

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The Independent Online

Outlook A sign of trouble ahead? Mervyn King has wasted no time firing a shot across the bows of the Conservatives. The Bank of England Governor seems to have been irked by David Cameron's speech to his party conference last month, during which the Tory leader said the quantitative easing programme would have to stop because "in the end, printing money leads to inflation". Mr King warned Mr Cameron off yesterday, insisting the decision was "one for the Bank".

This was a minor skirmish, but the episode is a reminder that one of Labour's most enduring achievements in office has been giving the Bank independence. When Gordon Brown announced that shift, just four days after Labour's 1997 election victory, it was hugely controversial. In the run-up to the next election, the Bank now feels entitled – and even obliged – to put the troops on stand-by at the merest hint of incursion on to its territory.

Mr Cameron would not dream of trying to turn the clock back on independence and his shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, appears to be developing a decent relationship with the Bank. Still, Mr King has become increasingly bold about confronting the current Government with some uncomfortable home truths. And having become more assertive, he will not want to step back under the next administration. Mr Cameron may yet find some more spiky barbs heading his way.

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