The UK government should sell taxpayers’ remaining shares in Royal Bank of Scotland in order to get a much needed Brexit boost, according to an adviser to the former Chancellor, George Osborne. Doing so would raise about £20 billion, half the amount those shares were bought for at the height of the financial crisis.

Writing in The Times today, Richard Davies says: “Privatising RBS would…free up £20 billion that could be held as a buffer, to be deployed if Britain needs an extra boost along the bumpy path to Brexit…It would free up vital brainpower. The shareholdings take up the time of Whitehall’s financial experts. All these people should be looking to the next challenge – making the most of Brexit.”

Last month, the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said, “it is clear that the disposal of the RBS shares at a price that recovers the taxpayers’ investment is not practical at the moment.” A sale of the state-controlled 73% stake in RBS would only happen once the bank had resolved a number of issues, including a probable fine to settle US litigation over the sale of investments backed by subprime mortgages. RBS’s delayed disposal of Williams & Glyn, which it has to offload as a condition of European state aid rules, is also a major hurdle.

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by Scott Thompson
Scott is Senior Editor at IBS Intelligence. You can follow him on Twitter and contact him at: Scott.Thompson@ibsintelligence.com
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