No, Mr Osborne, selling our stake in Eurostar is not securing Britain’s future | Deborah Orr

No, Mr Osborne, selling our stake in Eurostar is not securing Britain’s future | Deborah Orr
As ever, profit gets privatised and risk or liability remains the business of the state

The government is thrilled that it has found a buyer for the Treasury’s 40% stake in Eurostar. And no wonder. An Anglo-Canadian consortium has offered to pay £757m. In the autumn of 2013, when the coalition first announced its plan to sell, it expected to raise £300m. Which looks like prima facie evidence that the government doesn’t have much idea about how valuable national assets are. It’s all, says Chancellor George Osborne, “part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.” To an idiot such as myself, it looks like part of a long-term plan to secure the future of Patina Rail LLP.

I thought the long-term economic plan was to narrow the deficit. I do see how a large injection of cash can do this in the short-term – by paying off some debt. But in the long-term, selling off state-owned, profit-making assets can only ever make the government all the more dependent on tax revenues. As ever, profit gets privatised and risk or liability remains the business of the state. If Patina Rail LLP makes a mess of running the service, it’s not hard to see who’ll be expected to pick up the pieces.

Related: Eurostar sale to net British taxpayers more than £750m

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Source: Guardian Transport

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