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Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to the Chancellor’s speech at the Mansion House dinner, said:

“We have always argued that the future of RBS and Lloyds should be driven by the best interests of the British taxpayer and the wider economy, not a political timetable. 

“George Osborne has now been forced to back down from the foolhardy idea of a pre-election firesale of RBS. This would have meant a loss of billions of pounds to the taxpayer at the current share price. The government’s review of the future shape of RBS is welcome but it must look at all the options, including the case for splitting retail and investment banking at RBS, so that there is no return to business as usual. 

“On Lloyds, we are clear that the taxpayer needs to get its money back but following the collapse of branch sales to the Co-op Bank it’s vital that we have a new strategy from the government to boost competition on the high street.

“The Chancellor must get on and implement the radical blueprint of the Parliamentary Commission’s report. He should do this without delay by amending the Financial Services Bill currently going through Parliament. Britain needs reformed banks to work for the economy, serve their customers and better support businesses for the long term.” 

On George Osborne’s remarks about the wider economy, Ed Balls said:   

“At a time when living standards are falling, growth is weak and deficit reduction has stalled families and businesses will think the Chancellor is not living in the real world. 

“As the IMF said last month, we are a long way from a strong and sustained recovery. That is why, as the IMF and Labour have both demanded, George Osborne must finally act to bring forward infrastructure investment to create jobs now and strengthen our economy for the long-term.”

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