Mr Hammond isn’t the only one with a smile on his face. Anyone who has invested in RBS shares will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Once again, Philip Hammond has shown that Conservative policy is to put private profit ahead of the national interest.

He ensured that the Treasury made a £2.1 billion loss on the sale of eight per cent of the nation’s stock of RBS shares.

The 925 million shares sold at 271p each – a price significantly lower than the 502p at which the Treasury bought its stake a decade ago.

That’s appallingly bad for the taxpayer – but wonderful for new shareholders; they have a huge opportunity for profit.

Coming after all the Tory talk about there being no “magic money tree” – and then finding cash for many ridiculous projects (DUP alliance, anybody?) – he has shown that the government has no business sense at all.

Tory policy is always to drain the public purse in favour of private profit, you see, in order to claim that there is no cash available for public services.

That is no way to manage national finances.

His comment, “The government should not be in the business of owning banks,” is risible. Many nations own banks, including Germany, France, Norway, Spain, Italy, Russia and the United States.

He went on to say, “The proceeds of this sale will go towards reducing our national debt.” Rubbish! The sale means the UK has to find another £2.1 billion, just to make up for the loss Mr Hammond has magically created.

Meanwhile, after RBS settled a lawsuit brought by the US Department of Justice over the mis-selling of toxic mortgage-backed securities, share prices are likely to rise rapidly, meaning a huge profit for investors.

Who were these investors, by the way? I don’t recall any sale being advertised to the public, 1980s-style. Why not?

Mr Hammond’s excuse for selling at a loss is that RBS is much smaller since the government bailout and its share price is not likely to recover soon – and the reduced amount of cash released by the sale could be better-used elsewhere.

It will be interesting to see whether history bears out that claim.

Does anybody remember what happened with Royal Mail share prices, for example? Massive loss for the taxpayer – massive profit for the private investor.

That is Tory policy – harmful for the country, and harmful for you.

Source: Hammond defends RBS shares sale after £2bn loss to taxpayers | Business | The Guardian


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