Hopes that this month's interest rate cut will be the first of a series this autumn and winter went squarely on the back burner yesterday when the Bank of England revealed the decision to lower the cost of borrowing on August 4 was taken by a single vote - and opposed by the Governor Mervyn King.
This was the first time since the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee began setting the official interest rate in 1997 that a majority of its members has outvoted voted either Mr King or his predecessor as governor, Sir Edward George.
Most unusually, a Bank spokesman commented on its own minutes to counter any impression that the adverse vote represented a challenge to Mr King's authority.
"Both the Governor and his predecessor have previously explained in public that they would be prepared to vote with the minority," he said..
The City had supposed the cut was close to a foregone conclusion, but minutes of the committee's meeting published yesterday show that only five members voted for it, while the other four supported a standstill for at least one more month.
The Bank's two deputy governors, Rachel Lomax and Sir Andrew Large, both supported Mr King, as did Paul Tucker, the Bank's executive director for markets. Its chief economist, Charles Bean, voted for the quarter point cut, lowering the rate to 4.5 per cent.
But even he and others in the majority made it clear that a cut "was no presumption on the future direction of interest rates", according to the minutes.
They record a warning from this camp that a failure to deliver such a widely expected cut might damage confidence, while "early action would reduce the risk that greater changes in the policy rate would be needed at some point in the future and would not preclude a rise in rates in the future if the data warranted it".
To that, the minority led by Mr King replied that the committee's own projections for growth and inflation did not support the markets' view that "a sequence of cuts was likely to be needed".
They pointed to signs that recent economic pointers had been a little stronger than
4.75 per cent. expected, while oil prices looked like remaining strong.
"Adding to the strength of the recovery would a risk adding top inflationary pressures while costs were still working their way through the supply chain," the minority warned.
In July, the committee also voted by a five-to-four margin - but then the majority, including the governor, chose to keep the rate unchanged at
This month the majority, crucially including the respected Mr Bean, took the view that Britain's economic growth had been subdued in the first half of the year. They were less convinced that consumer appetite would recover.
They argued that while inflation may well rise in the short term, it should taper off later. That being so, it was right to "validate" market expectations of a cut in order to prop up consumer spending.