John McDonnell calls on Thomas Cook bosses to pay back bonuses as firm collapses

Posted On: 
23rd September 2019

John McDonnell has called on bosses at Thomas Cook to “examine their consciences” and pay back any salary bonuses following the firm’s collapse.

John McDonnell said Thomas Cook's management needed to 'examine their own consciences'
PA Images

The 178-year-old tour operator ceased trading on Monday morning after last-minute negotiations to save it failed, putting more than 20,000 jobs at risk, including 9,000 in the UK.

Ministers have pledged the “biggest ever peacetime repatriation” in an effort to bring more than 150,000 British holidaymakers home.

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When asked if those at the top should return any reward pay handed out before the firm's collapse, the Shadow Chancellor told the BBC's Today programme: “Too right, too right, yes.”

And he added: “If this was in the banking sector, we’ve got legislation and other practices to deal with this, but I think they need to examine their own consciences about how they’ve brought this about and how they themselves have exploited this situation.”

Mr McDonnell also criticised the Government for “standing to one side” rather than intervening to create a "breathing space" which he said could have led to a solution.

It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said a Government-backed bailout of the company “was not really a goer”.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: "The company were asking for up to £250m. They needed about £900m on top of that and they've got debts of £1.7bn, so they idea of just spending taxpayers' money on that just wasn't really a goer."

He added: "I think the problem of putting money into it - apart from the fact governments don't usually go around investing in travel companies - is that it may have just stretched things out for a couple of weeks and we could have been exactly where we started."

But Mr McDonnell later questioned the “scale of the intervention” cited and said any deal offered could have had "strings attached".

He said: “I did ask the Government to intervene and if it meant some sort of financial intervention it would have had to have been with strings attached because there are clearly issues here about management failure.

“Because of the scale of the threat to people’s holidays, people have saved up, gone on holiday, all they’ve asked for is a decent break is under threat, 30,000 jobs at risk, I would have wanted the government not to stand to one side but actually to intervene.”

He added: “We went through this in the steel crisis and at that point in time, I said to the government in some instances it is about interveneing to stabilise the situation and to enable solutions to be developed. You give a breathing space.

“The Government refused initially then but they did eventually intervene and we did have a breathing space to find a solution, that’s what was needed here.”