TAXPAYERS could be hit with a multi-billion pound bill if the eurozone debt crisis is not solved, it was feared last night.
The Government’s stakes in development banks connected to the European Union face severe losses unless a solution can be found.
The UK has already injected £1.88billion into the European Investment Bank (EIB) and pledged another £35.7billion, to be drawn as required.
Although the EIB ranks above other unsecured creditors, it could face huge losses in the event of a failure to stabilise the euro.
If Britain’s stake in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is included, the total capital commitment for the taxpayer could rise by a further several billion pounds.
On top of this, the UK could also be called on to pay some of the cost of the EU’s emergency funding facility, the European Financial Stability Mechanism.
One London-based credit analyst warned: “What the public doesn’t realise is the quite simply staggering amounts of taxpayer money that have already been committed if things get significantly worse.
“It may be a doomsday scenario, but recent history has proven that many events thought extremely unlikely have a funny habit of coming to pass.”
In a separate development yesterday, the top law officer in England and Wales said the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) should not intervene in controversial issues such as whether to give prisoners the right to vote if they have already been considered by UK courts.
MPs overwhelmingly voted in Feb- ruary to keep the UK ban on prisoners voting, in defiance of an ECHR ruling that it was unlawful.
It prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to set up a commission to consider a British Bill of Rights and the future of the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the convention in UK law.
In a speech to lawyers at Lincoln’s Inn in London last night, Attorney General Dominic Grieve said the Strasbourg-based court ought to follow its own advice and concede that national authorities were better placed to evaluate local needs and conditions than an international court.
Mr Grieve said he would personally appear before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights next week to argue that the Strasbourg court was interfering in prisoner voting.
He added: “Of course the United Kingdom should still be subject to its judgments but the court should not normally need to intervene in cases that have already been prop- erly considered by national courts.”