THE UK government’s claim that the sale of its majority stake in the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland will not see the taxpayer lose out is like boasting about the great deal you got on your car having lost money on your house, Labour has said.
Shadow chancellor Chris Leslie told MPs the Treasury could not pretend it was not making a loss on RBS because it was making a gain on completely separate assets.
He also demanded to know why the Chancellor was not present in the Commons to deliver the statement himself after announcing a series of policies in his Mansion House speech last night.
Some backbench Labour MPs could be heard asking where he was, with some suggesting he was suffering with a hangover following the bash in the City.
Mr Leslie asked: “Shouldn’t he have the courtesy to come to the House of Commons and answer questions for himself on what might well be one of the most important financial decisions of this Parliament?
“Taxpayers deserve to know more about what’s going on here and why is it that when there are difficult questions, the Chancellor always blames someone else or sends someone else?”
Treasury minister Harriett Baldwin was given the responsibility for delivering the statement in the Commons.
Mr Leslie went on: “Taxpayers who bailed out RBS during the global financial crisis want their money and will rightly be suspicious of any rush to sell.
“We come to this extremely dodgy claim that if you roll everything together, you stand on one leg, you squint a little bit and then you look at RBS losses, they are not really that bad.
“Isn’t that a bit like saying I have sold my house and lost a fortune but don’t worry I have got a great deal on the car?
“Come off it - you can’t pretend that you are not making a loss on RBS just because you are making a gain on completely separate assets elsewhere.”