Bank of England
Bank of England describes Brexit as the "largest immediate risk" facing global financial markets.iStock

The Bank of England voted unanimously to hold benchmark interest rates at 0.5%, as well as its asset purchase programme at £375bn ($529bn), but warned that uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the 23 June referendum on Britain's EU membership had become the "largest immediate risk" facing global financial markets.

Following the conclusion of its two-day monthly monetary policy committee meeting on Thursday (16 June), the BoE noted: "Through financial markets and confidence channels, there are risks of adverse spillovers to the global economy."

The UK central bank also said market evidence suggested businesses and consumers were putting off "major economic decisions" ahead of the referendum, with commercial and residential real estate deals, car purchases and business investments being put on hold.

"An increasing range of financial asset prices have become more sensitive to market perceptions of the likely outcome of the forthcoming EU referendum...The pound sterling is also likely to depreciate further, perhaps sharply," it added.

Furthermore, the BoE reiterated its warning from May, noting that a vote to leave the EU could "materially alter" its outlook for the country's economic output and inflation.

While it pointed out that its "measure of uncertainty" had risen, the BoE stressed it had contingency measures in place to deal with any fallout from the referendum result. These include an offer to support financial institutions should they need it, and coordinated action with other central banks to maintain financial stability in the wake of a potential Brexit.