Northern Rock has been a symbol of George Osborne’s poor judgement - Leslie

Chris LeslieChris Leslie MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister, in response to the sale of Northern Rock, said:

“It was right to take Northern Rock into public ownership back in 2008 to stop a catastrophe in our banking system, but it is right that it goes out of public ownership.

“Northern Rock has been a symbol of George Osborne’s poor judgement on the economy ever since his reckless opposition to nationalisation in 2008. Had the last Labour Government listened to him then there would have been incredibly serious consequences for our economy.

“But making this sale today means we will face a loss so there have to be questions for the Chancellor as to whether selling later would have led to a smaller loss or even a profit.

“The Chancellor’s reckless decision to cut spending and raise taxes too far and too fast has choked off the recovery and means the Government is likely to borrow billions more than planned. For this sale and for future sales of Lloyds and RBS we have said that if the Government makes a profit or gets money coming into the Treasury they should use that to repay the national debt.

“George Osborne has been silent on what this decision will mean for the national debt today. Using this sale to, for instance, have a tax give-away for a minority of the very richest at the top when everybody else is being hit hard by tax rises and spending cuts would be wrong.

“And it is a real pity the Government has not considered the need for greater diversity and competition in the banking sector and given no serious thought to making Northern Rock back into a building society or mutual.”