SNP's Ian Blackford calls for meeting over RBS closures

The SNP's Westminster leader has written to the Chancellor and the Scottish Secretary calling for an urgent meeting over the proposed closures of 62 Royal Bank of Scotland branches.

Ian Blackford has condemned the plans and previously urged Theresa May to intervene.

RBS has said the move is driven by the fact that more people are choosing to bank online or on mobile phones but Mr Blackford said it would leave some people in rural communities stranded.

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The closures will lead to the loss of 158 jobs and the Unite union said it would ‘’devastate local communities’’.

Mr Blackford has now written to Philip Hammond and David Mundell to discuss the situation and said there is a responsibility on the UK Government to intervene as a major shareholder in the bank.

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He said: “I have requested an urgent meeting with the Chancellor and David Mundell - Scottish towns face losing their banking facilities and the UK government must take action.

“In Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Theresa May confirmed she does not intend to intervene on what she sees as a ‘commercial’ decision. Her response was shocking - she can’t wash her hands of this issue. People bailed out RBS, and now they are losing their local branches.

“Thirteen Scottish towns are about to lose their only bank - the Prime Minister is so out of touch she is unaware of how these closures will hit rural communities.

“The figures I have seen show RBS have been misleading. They have said the branch in Kyle has only 51 regular customers for example, yet 25,000 transactions a year allows me to conclude that the branch is still busy.”

He added: “These issues must be raised by the UK government at the earliest opportunity in their role as a major shareholder.

“RBS has a duty to its customers, they really cannot repay our communities by withdrawing from them.

“The Tories can’t turn their back on rural Scotland.”