Did Sir Mervyn King get the best leaving present ever?

Laura Kuenssberg

Former Business Editor

RBS Credit: Press Association

Did Sir Mervyn King just get the best leaving present ever? George Osborne is tonight announcing that the government will consider splitting up RBS, the solution that he has advocated for years - winding down its bad debts separately so the good bits are in a more easily sellable form.

Although just a few months ago the signals from the government suggested that shares in RBS could be on offer before the General Election, whether for purchase or a grand giveaway, the brakes now seem to have been slammed on that idea, and instead the government is not just going to hang on to our whopping share in the bank for longer, they're considering something that could involve the taxpayer being on the hook for even more.

Osborne suggests that the good bank - bad bank split would only be done without injecting more cash to nationalise the whole thing - essentially buying the 17 percent of the bank that we don't own, so that the government would be able to split it up.

But there are very few people in the City so far, who believe it can be done without costing billions.

Not least just a few months ago in February the Chancellor told MPs that there were very considerable obstacles in proceeding with this plan.

But it is unlikely that he would announce that the government will look at the idea at the most high profile of City occasions if there was no chance of taking on the idea after the Treasury review.

Many believe the idea had merit years ago but now it is just too late. The boss of the CBI told me it feels like groundhog day.

As expected, he's also announcing that the partial sale of Lloyds could start soon - the first slice will be offered to the markets, but the second could be on offer to the public too.