UK Government Prime Minister Theresa May is again being called on to intervene to prevent the Royal Bank of Scotland from closing 62 branches across the UK, including six in the Borders.
The Scottish National Party’s leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, urged Mrs May to act to avert the closures during a Prime Minister’s questions session last month, and now he has written to her too to repeat that plea.
The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP 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.
“13 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.
“The Prime Minister is turning her back on rural Scotland. This has to be stopped.
“The branches in these rural locations must be protected if constituents are to have satisfactory access to banking services for individuals, local businesses and to deliver financial inclusion.”
Mrs May has declined to add anything to her answer in Parliament that, despite being 72%-owned by taxpayers, the bank is free to make such commercial decisions without state intervention.
However, Scottish Secretary and Borders MP David Mundell has made clear his opposition to the closure plans, saying: “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.”
RBS intends closing its branches in Hawick, Selkirk, Jedburgh, Duns, Eyemouth and Melrose, plus another 56 across Scotland, later this year.
That would leave only three branches in the Borders – at Peebles, Galashiels and Kelso.