The Tories have sold the final public stake in Royal Mail to City fatcats – a week after Jeremy Corbyn told an 8,000-strong rally it should be saved.
Last night’s £591million firesale went entirely to ‘institutional investors’, which typically include banks, pension schemes, insurance firms and hedge funds.
It was the last stake in Royal Mail to be sold off in a controversial privatisation that has poured £3.3billion into Treasury coffers.
Business secretary Sajid Javid boasted today was a ‘a truly historic day for Royal Mail with the workers gaining a share of this history’.
But the 455p share price, which reflects the current market rate, is well below the 500p the government earned just four months ago.
And campaigners blasted the sale last week in a packed rally at Manchester Cathedral that gatecrashed the Tory conference .
Jeremy Corbyn declared Britain had been ‘ripped off’ as he led a crowd of 1,200 people in the cathedral and 7,000 people outside.
He told the People’s Post campaign event: “There are people who have been after Royal Mail for a very long time. People who cast their beady eye on the assets, the infrastructure and the opportunities.”
And he said of the Tories: “What they’re doing is trying to destroy it.”
As with previous sales, the sell-off was announced yesterday and completed by the time the sun rose this morning .
None of the remaining 13% stake went to ‘normal’ household investors, a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman confirmed.
Another 1% will be gifted to eligible Royal Mail employees in the UK, bringing the total stake they own to 12%.
Mr Javid said the move is ‘the right step for the Royal Mail, its customers and the taxpayer’.
He added: “Proceeds will also go to help pay off the national debt – a crucial part of our long term plan to provide economic security for working people.”
Chancellor George Osborne said: “This is a milestone moment in the long and proud history of the Royal Mail, when we secure its long term future.
“By fully leaving state ownership we have a win all round – for customers, the workforce and the taxpayer. And every penny will be used to pay down our national debt as we continue to bring our public finances under control.”
But Labour’s shadow business secretary Angela Eagle fumed: “We know Ministers initially flogged off Royal Mail shares on the cheap, short-changing taxpayers.
“Rather than focussing on their ideological obsession with selling off national assets, the Government should be acting in the best interests of the public.
“Labour is clear that these shares should have remained in public ownership in order to safeguard the public’s interest in this important national service.”
Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, added: “This firesale nails the lie that the Tories stand up for the interests of ordinary people.
“By their actions today they have made it abundantly clear that they are only interested in privatisation dogma and making the rich richer – even when their actions place public services at risk.
“The remaining government share in this profitable company should have been used to safeguard the public’s voice in Royal Mail and ensure the continuation of daily deliveries to every address in the country.
“The Tories have instead chosen an ideological course that puts the fundamental ethos of a centuries old national institution in jeopardy.”