Conservatives vow to sell off Lloyds shares at discount

DAVID CAMERON has promised voters the chance to buy Lloyds bank shares at discount prices if the Conservatives win the General Election.
On the campaign trail: David Cameron. Picture: GettyOn the campaign trail: David Cameron. Picture: Getty
On the campaign trail: David Cameron. Picture: Getty

Despite opinion polls remaining deadlocked, the Prime Minister insisted an outright Tory majority was “within reach” and said he would be getting “out on the streets” to press home his message in the run-up to 7 May.

The proposal to offer small investors up to £4 billion worth of Lloyds shares below market value was only possible because the coalition’s economic plan was working, he said.

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Mr Cameron rejected Labour claims the Lloyds offer had been made before, insisting it was the first time there had been a “retail offer to individuals so they can own shares in healthy, successful British banks”.

“The crucial point of this is that it is more clearing up the mess that Labour left us,” he added. “The taxpayer put £20 billion into these banks and I want to get the money back. We have already recovered billions and this will help us to recover billions more to pay down the national debt.

“But at the same time I think having people in our country being able to own shares in a healthy, successful British bank is the sort of country we should be building.”

He declined to rule out any post-election deal with Ukip if there was a hung parliament and said flagging poll support suggested the Eurosceptic party “will be lucky if they have even one seat”.

“The facts of this election is that there is only one party that can achieve that overall majority and continue with the plan that is working … and that is the Conservative Party,” Mr Cameron said, denying that private party polling showed it was unlikely.

In a rare move, Mr Cameron used a newspaper article to issue a direct plea to Liberal Democrat and Ukip supporters to vote Tory to prevent a Labour-SNP government taking power.

Labour leader Ed Miliband appealed to moderate “one nation” Tories to vote Labour, insisting he now represented the centre ground and would keep Britain firmly in the heart of Europe.

The latest polls continued to offer conflicting pictures, with an Opinium poll giving the Tories a four-point lead over Labour, while YouGov poll put Labour three ahead.

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“I want to reach out to Tory voters, to Liberal Democrat voters, to Ukip voters, to non-voters … to people who feel that David Cameron can’t answer the challenge of our time, who worry about our place in the European Union, who really think to themselves, ‘we can do a lot better as a country’,” Mr Miliband said.

He described Mr Cameron as “ideologically beached” and with no answers about how to tackle inequality.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Vince Cable dismissed Mr Cameron’s tactical voting call as “dangerous nonsense”.

He said there was no chance the Tories could win an overall majority and would end up reliant on the support of Ukip and “30 or 40 maverick Tory MPs”.

The Business Secretary insisted he had no personal preference over whether his party governed with the Conservatives or Labour in the event of another hung parliament.

Under the Lloyds plan, a proportion of the next tranche of the taxpayers’ stake in the bank to be sold will see a proportion of shares earmarked for small investors at a discount of at least 5 per cent. Buyers who keep them for a year will be rewarded with a “loyalty bonus” of one additional free share for every 10 they still hold.