The SNP Westminster Leader has called on the Prime Minister to “show some leadership,” and stop RBS bank closures in Scotland.
Ian Blackford urged Theresa May to bring RBS chief executive Ross McEwan into 10 Downing Street and “tell him that you’re going to stand up for the national interest” as he raised the issue during the final Prime Minister’s Questions of 2017.
Mrs May hit back stating that the decision on individual bank branches was “of course” an operational decision for the bank. She argued it was a “bit rich” of the SNP to speak of standing up for communities when the Scottish Government was “going to increase taxes for 1.2 million Scots”.
Mr Blackford said: ” If it was right in 2013 for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to intervene on the departure of the chief executive officer then of course it’s quite right that the Government takes its responsibilities when the last 13 branches in town are going to be closed in Scotland.
“Prime Minister, show some leadership, stand up for our communities, bring Ross McEwan into 10 Downing Street and tell him that you’re going to stand up for the national interest and stop these bank closures.”
Mrs May replied: “May I say to him, that the decision on individual bank branches is of course an operational decision for the bank, but he talks about standing up for communities and standing up for people across Scotland.
“I have to say to him that’s a bit rich coming from an SNP which in Government in Scotland is going to increase taxes for 1.2 million Scots. The Conservative Government is reducing tax for 2.4 million Scots. There’s only one clear message to people in Scotland: Conservatives back you, SNP tax you.”
Earlier in the exchange, t he MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber asked whether the Government was right to intervene in the departure of the chief executive of RBS.
He said: “In 2013 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne when reflecting on his position in representing the majority interest in the Royal Bank of Scotland on the departure of the then chief executive of the RBS said of course my consent and approval was sought.”
Mrs May replied: “I say to him, that obviously decisions have been taken in the past in relation to RBS, the key decision was taken at the time of the financial crisis in relation to the support that the Government provided to the RBS. If he is going raise branch closures as he did last week, I’m afraid I have to tell him that he’ll get the same answer as he got last week.
“This is a commercial decision for RBS, but Government does ensure through the protocol that is in place, through the work that’s been with the Post Office to provide extra services, that services are available for people.”
Separately, Labour’s Bill Esterson asked Mrs May to set up an inquiry to look at the “victims” of RBS’s “inappropriate treatment of smaller businesses”.
The Sefton Central MP said: “The inappropriate treatment of smaller businesses by the Royal Bank of Scotland destroyed businesses, ripped families apart and saw people take their own lives.
“RBS is owned by the Government, so will the Prime Minister set up the full, independent inquiry which is needed to deliver justice for the victims?”
Mrs May replied: “My understanding is that this issue is being properly looked into. Of course, I recognise the concerns that are expressed by (Mr Esterson) and indeed will have been expressed by other members in this House and the Government is looking into that.”