Theresa May urged to stop RBS shutting 62 branches around UK


The SNP's Westminster leader has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to prevent RBS from closing 62 branches across the UK.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ian Blackford said she must stand up for communities in Scotland who face losing their last bank in town.

Mrs May was pressed on the issue in Prime Minister's Questions and said she did not intend to intervene on what she sees as a "commercial" decision.

RBS is 72%-owned by the taxpayer and has confirmed to Mr Blackford no consultation was undertaken with the public before the decision was taken on the planned closures.

Mr Blackford said: "The Prime Minister has an obligation - she must stand up for the public who bailed out RBS and are now - in some cases - going to be without any bank at all.

"Theresa May's response in Prime Minister's Questions was shocking - she can't wash her hands of this issue.

"Thirteen Scottish towns are about to lose their only bank. The Prime Minister is so out of touch she is unaware of how these closures will hit rural communities.

"I have learnt there was no consultation with local communities ahead of this decision being taken, highlighting a complete lack of customer care."

He insisted the closure decisions must be raised by the UK Government at the earliest opportunity in its role as major shareholder.

Mr Blackford added: "The Prime Minister is turning her back on rural Scotland. This has to be stopped.

Ian Blackford said communities faced losing the
Ian Blackford said communities faced losing the "last bank in town" (Jane Barlow/PA)

"The public stood by RBS when it needed our help. The bank must now stand by its customers.

"As Prime Minister, I urge you to step in and right this wrong.

"You must stand up for communities across Scotland who face losing their last bank in town. Its customers - and the public - deserve better."

Mrs May has declined to say anything other than what she said in the House of Commons.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell ?has made clear his opposition to the closures as his own constituency Dumfries is in a rural area.

He said: "I called in RBS senior staff and made clear to them in no uncertain terms how serious these closures are for communities ?across Scotland.

"Branches are a lifeline for many people, especially in rural areas. RBS needs to remember its responsibilities to customers and reconsider these harmful closures."