Fraser Nelson

How much will Northern Rock end up costing the taxpayer?

How much will Northern Rock end up costing the taxpayer?
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I notice how, in the full-page adverts he has taken out today, Richard Branson says his Northern Rock bailout plan will place no "additional" burden on the taxpayer. Even he does not suggest there will not be a burden – ie that the taxpayer won't be out of pocket for a vast amount by the end of this. Branson is no charity worker. He and other bidders will be able to smell ministerial fear and that is when precisely when private sector workers profit. It is a daft businessman who walks away from this bungling government without heavily profiting one way or another. Just ask the directors of QinetiQ. Brown will want Northern Rock off his hands and will be willing to pay for this.  Remember, Black Wednesday cost £3.3bn. I suspect Northern Rock will cost us a not dissimilar amount in the end. 

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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