The Bank of England cut its economic growth forecasts today due to a darker global outlook.

The only policymaker who had backed a rate rise in recent months also unexpectedly abandoned this position. 

The Bank of England said sharp falls in oil prices and shares, and significant risks in emerging economies, weighed on the international outlook.

However, it added that resilient domestic demand should ensure British growth still remained near its long-run average. 

"Global growth has fallen back further over the past three months as emerging economies have generally continued to slow and as the US economy has grown less than expected," the Bank of England said in its quarterly forecast. 

It said its Monetary Policy Committee had voted 9-0 to keep rates on hold at a record-low 0.5%, where they have been for almost seven years. 

MPC member Ian McCafferty, who had voted for a rate rise since August, unexpectedly dropped his call. 

"The more prolonged period of low inflation suggested that the pick-up in the pace of wage growth would be initially more muted than previously expected," he was recorded as saying in minutes of the BoE's policy discussions.

The Bank of England said interest rates were still more likely than not to rise gradually over the next three years. 

But it appears in no rush to follow the US Federal Reserve, which raised rates in December, just before the latest market turmoil.

Sterling has weakened by over 3% over the past three months. 

The bank said today this reflected concerns about global growth, lower interest rate expectations and possibly uncertainty about Britain's referendum on leaving the European Union, which is likely to take place in the middle of this year. 

In the middle of last year, when Britain appeared to be enjoying rapid economic growth, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney had started to lay groundwork for an interest rate rise. But as on previous occasions, he has had to put this on hold. 

Slowing global growth, led by emerging markets such as China, tumbling oil prices and weaker wage growth all pointed to inflation staying close to record-low levels for longer and caused financial markets to push back their bets on a Bank of England rate rise until late 2018 in recent days. 

The bank's own economic forecasts - which are based on an earlier market assumption of a rate rise in the second half of 2017 - show the weakest outlook for growth in nearly three years. 

The BoE forecast that the UK economy would grow 2.2% this year and 2.3% in 2017, down from forecasts of 2.5% and 2.6% in November and barely changed from 2015, when growth disappointed expectations. 

UK consumer price inflation is forecast to stay below 1% during 2016 - longer than previously thought - but then is forecast to rise to just over 2% in two years' time, similar to the last set of forecasts. 

Two weeks ago Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said he wanted to see British growth rise above its long-run average, a pick-up in wages and core inflation nearer 2% before he would back a rate rise. 

The Bank of England also cut its forecasts of wage growth today, predicting it would pick up to 3% this year from 1.75% estimated for the end of last year. November's forecasts had shown wage growth around three quarters of a percentage point higher. 

Policymakers said there was some sign that low headline inflation was weighing on wage deals, but that they expected this to reverse once the temporary effects of falling oil prices stopped weighing on inflation.