Labour Looks At Breaking Ties With Co-op Bank
Labour is considering breaking its historic links with the struggling Co-operative Bank.
The party has confirmed it is "reviewing its financial arrangements", insisting it is for commercial reasons.
It is reported Labour is looking to move loans worth more than £1m to the trade union-owned Unity Trust Bank.
Co-op Bank is in the process of selling its 27% stake in the Unity Trust Bank.
This could pave the way for Labour to move all its current account facilities to the same bank.
Among those on the board of directors of the Unity Trust Bank are union leaders Dave Prentis of Unison and Billy Hayes of the CWU, according to its 2013 report and accounts. Mr Prentis is listed as president.
The move by Labour follows a year of turmoil at the Co-op Bank, which came close to collapse and saw the resignation of its chairman Paul Flowers, who is now facing drug charges.
The bank recently reported a pre-tax annual loss of £1.3bn, and said it would not return to profit for at least two years.
And the parent Co-op Group confirmed a loss of £2.5bn for 2013, in what it described as a "disastrous year".
A Labour spokesman said: "The Labour Party is constantly reviewing its financial arrangements. All decisions are taken for commercial reasons."
The step would see one of the oldest political and banking relationships come to an end.
The Co-operative movement and Labour joined as parties in 1927, and the financial links are thought to have started then.
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps told Sky News: "This gives another big chunk of power to the unions - to a bank that is nearly entirely owned by those unions.
"It means Ed Miliband will have to listen to what those union barons are saying and when it comes to standing against the welfare reforms or the things that have helped to create jobs in this country, the unions object to all of those things so Ed Miliband won't be standing up for you and me - ordinary people and our jobs.
"He will simply be doing whatever the union bosses tell him to do."
Unity Trust Bank has confirmed it is in discussions with Labour about the transfer of its banking facilities.
Peter Kelly, director of business development and marketing, said: "The Labour Party are a long-standing customer of Unity and we welcome this opportunity to extend our relationship with them.
"This increased interest in the bank is part of growing awareness of our social values and our commitment to a double bottom line approach to business, where we use our commercial success to contribute to a more sustainable society."