Over the last decade or so, Eurostar has booked hundreds of millions of euros in profits for shareholders. This morning the French transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, has told French lawmakers that negotiations are underway over protecting the cross-channel rail link which, hit by the 95% drop in passengers, has seen its profits turn into losses. Just like many other enterprises.
The dripping wet Tory chairman of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman, is reportedly backing French calls for a bespoke UK-French government solution to help it through the crisis. Why?
Why can’t the shareholders reap the losses just as they reaped the profits? Why should British taxpayers subsidise a majority French state-owned venture that has paid institutional investors hundreds of millions? If the shareholders are short of cash, why can’t they get a bank loan on commercial terms? If the current owners don’t want to shoulder the losses then let it go bust and new owners can takeover. Rishi Sunak should not fall for the banker’s con we saw in 2008, that profits should be private and losses should be socialised by taxpayers, not again.