Surging inflation may soon lead to interest rate hike, policymaker warns

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The Bank of England may need to hike interest rates soon to stop inflation soaring too high as UK growth continues to confound expectations, a top policymaker has warned.

Kristin Forbes, one of the nine rate-setters on the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), signalled she was inching closer to voting for a rate hike after becoming increasingly "uncomfortable" with surging inflation given the economy's resilience since the Brexit vote.

In a speech in Leeds, Ms Forbes said growth had defied gloomy forecasts ahead of the EU referendum last June thanks to a "series of fortunate events" in the second half of 2016, which are set to keep supporting the economy.

She said the UK's impressive performance since last June has made it "increasingly difficult" to justify keeping rates at the record low of 0.25% with inflation predicted to surge close to 3% next year.

She said: "If the real economy remains solid and the pick-up in the nominal data continues, this could soon suggest an increase in bank rate."

Bank governor Mark Carney warned last week that there would be "twists and turns" as Britain leaves the EU, but Ms Forbes said policymakers needed to act soon to ward off the threat of runaway inflation.

She said: "I believe that the MPC should be nimble and willing to quickly adjust the appropriate path for monetary policy in either direction as needed throughout this period - even if it means reversing recent adjustments to bank rate."

The Bank voted to keep rates on hold last week at 0.25%, having halved rates in August amid a mammoth economy-boosting package following the Brexit vote.

But the economy has performed far better than feared, with the Bank last week upgrading its forecasts for 2017 and the next two years.