Five questions answered on the Royal Mail sale

is it “short changing” tax payers?

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has said privatisation of the Royal Mail undervalues the company. We answer five questions on Umunna’s Royal Mail comments.

By how much does the Shadow Secretary think Royal Mail is being undervalued by?

Umunna said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme he thinks the privatisation of the Royal Mail undervalues the company by as much as £1bn, with City investors and hedge funds being the biggest beneficiaries of the sale.

He added that the sale is “short changing” tax payers.

When is the Royal Mail being sold?

Shares of Royal Mail will be sold to the public from 15 October. Up to 62 per cent of the business will be sold, with the rest remaining state-owned. A 10 per cent stake has been reserved for Royal Mail employees.

A £750 minimum purchase stake is required by members of the public and a £500 minimum purchase stake by employees.

What else has Ununna said?

He believes the £750 minimum purchase stake is too steep for the public.

"That is a lot of money for most people - it is out of reach for many. Most of the people benefiting from this will be the speculators and the hedge funds,” he told Radio 4.

Labour has said they will not renationalise the Royal Mail if the party got in power at the next election.

What is the current value of the Royal Mail shares?

Initially the government priced the shares at 260-330p, but it is thought they will be sold between 300-330p.

On Friday it was reported that demand for shares is outstripping supply.

What has the government said in regards to the Shadow Business Secretary’s comments?

The Department for Business said: "This is a commercial transaction and government is following normal commercial practice in setting and publicising the share price and delivering value for the taxpayer. The value of Royal Mail will depend on a number of factors, notably the company's on-going financial performance, its future prospects and the level of investor interest."

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

Photo: Getty
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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.