Image: Parliament Live Image: Parliament Live

The Bank again said that interest rates were more likely to rise than fall over the next two years, but repeated that any increases would be gradual.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at economic researcher Markit, said: The Bank highlighted how uncertainty regarding the June vote on the UK's membership of the EU is exacerbating wider concerns about the domestic and global economic outlook.

"Policymakers noted how spending by businesses and overall demand in the economy could weaken as a result of the intensifying Brexit fears, which would worsen an already shaky start to the year."