British taxpayers lost a staggering £2 billion from the sale of Eurostar, a government audit revealed yesterday.
A National Audit Office report claimed that the sell-off of the government’s 40 per cent stake in the Channel Tunnel operator to a Canadian firm was “run well” and achieved the Treasury’s goal of maximising proceeds.
Yet the £757 million received was nowhere near the £3 billion that the British public invested in Eurostar — and the report said that the timing of the privatisation was dictated by the government’s aim to sell the railway before the election.
Commons public accounts committee chair Meg Hillier said that the sale had deprived the public of a potential £750m in dividends in the next decade.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said that the sale amounted to a “gross rip-off by anyone’s standards.”
“However you dress it up the fire sale of the UK’s Eurostar stake before the election has cost the taxpayer billions in wasted investment and lost future profits.”
“With another £62 billion of our public assets set to be flogged off under this government, the Eurostar fiasco paints a grim picture of profiteering and bargain basement deals that rob the British people.”
But a Treasury spokesman welcomed the report.
“Getting the best value for money for the taxpayer and tackling our country’s debts so our country lives within its means are key parts of our long-term plan,” he said.
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented:
"The stake in Eurostar should never have been sold. That the Government sold it cheap and in a hurry just compounds that mistake."