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Blackford says PM should intervene

May ‘washing her hands’ of RBS closures says SNP

Theresa May

Theresa May: commercial matter


Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of washing her hands of the RBS branch closures.

During Prime Minister’s questions SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford condemned Mrs May for refusing to make a stand against the bank’s plan to shut 259 outlets across the UK.

Mr Blackford MP said Mrs May was duty-bound to intervene on behalf of taxpayers who had bailed out the bank which remains 72% state-owned.

He urged her to demand a meeting with the bank’s CEO Ross McEwan.

Mrs May said she does not intend to intervene on what she sees as a ‘commercial’ decision.

She said: “The decision on closing branches is a commercial matter for the bank. It is an issue the Secretary of State [for Scotland] has raised with the bank. What is important is that services are provided to individuals and alternatives are made available.”

Mr Blackford was unimpressed with the PM’s response, calling it “shocking”.

He said: “She can’t wash her hands of this issue. People bailed out RBS, and now they are losing their local branches. 

“13 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.

“These decisions 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 Prime Minister is turning her back on rural Scotland. This has to be stopped.”

Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs Spokesperson and MP for Edinburgh West, yesterday called on the RBS to rethink its decision.

She said the recent closurs announced at the end of November were in addition to the 443 redundancies in June and 30 branch closures in March. 

Ms Jardine has requested a meeting with representatives of the bank.

Ms Jardine said: “Cutting local branch services is an easy option for banks to save money, but devastates local communities.

“Creative thinking is required to find a solution and that may require collaboration across the banking sector. I’m meeting with RBS to discuss a way forward, I hope to contribute positively to this necessary discussion. 

“RBS and the banking sector need to take radical steps save face to face banking services.”



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