The call was said to be "acrimonious" and Mr Darling acknowledged that "Sir" Richard (Branson) was "disappointed" that his plan had been ditched. He said: "It is better for the Government to hold on to Northern Rock for a temporary period and as and when market conditions improve the value of Northern Rock will grow and therefore the taxpayer will gain.
UK Financial Investments said it has agreed to sell 100pc of Northern Rock to Virgin Money for £747m in cash immediately, but this could potentially rise to around £1bn.
Under the deal, another £50m is “expected” to be paid within six months. The Treasury will also benefit by up to £80m if the bank floats in the next five years and retain £150m of Tier 1 capital notes.
This represents a loss of between 400 and 700 million pounds.
I was wondering if Mr Darling would like to explain to me (because I'm one of the poor suckers who is paying for this, and I can ill afford it) just in what parallel universe a loss of between 400 and 700 million pounds represents a gain to the taxpayer.
At the same time I was wondering if Mr Osborne would like to let me know why he thinks that this is a good time to sell, or didn't they do sums at his expensive school?
Answers on a post card please.