James Forsyth James Forsyth

The cost of Brown’s meddling

Gordon Brown claims not to know what he should say sorry for. Well, he could start with apologising for his role in Lloyds’ takeover of HBOS.

Iain Martin puts it perfectly in today’s Telegraph:

“The catastrophe at Lloyds-HBOS is the ultimate New Labour scandal. It has the lot: cronyism, back-scratching, destructive micromanaging by Gordon Brown and an unimaginably large loss of public money.

Consider what has just happened. At the height of the financial crisis in September, Sir Victor Blank, the chairman of a perfectly healthy Lloyds, connived in buying a stricken rival bank with the help of a desperate Prime Minister. The weight of toxic assets on HBOS’s books then sank Lloyds. As a result, the merged institution has effectively been nationalised.” As Iain writes, the cost to the taxpayer of this will be upwards of £80 billion, more than twice the defence budget. Brown’s meddling has cost the rest of us dear and helped destroy a bank, Lloyds, that would otherwise have survived this crisis. It really is a disgrace that, to quote Iain again, “the PM unilaterally suspended the competition laws to facilitate a bad deal that was temporarily helpful to him politically.”

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