Arm deal was a big mistake, says top Conservative

Theresa May’s former deputy admits ministers were wrong to allow the sale of Arm to go ahead

Theresa May’s former deputy has admitted ministers were wrong to allow the sale of Arm to go ahead. 

Tory MP Damian Green was a senior figure in May’s Cabinet when the Cambridge-based chip designer was sold to Japanese conglomerate Softbank for £23billion in 2016. 

At the time, the prime minister was keen to show the UK was open for business post-Brexit and waved the deal through despite widespread concern. 

Wrong: Tory MP Damian Green was a senior figure in May’s Cabinet when Arm was sold to Softbank in 2016

But Green, who was work and pensions secretary when the sale was approved before becoming deputy prime minister under May, has told the Mail: ‘The deal was a mistake. At the time it was seen as a vote of confidence for inward investment post-Brexit. But in retrospect that was the wrong judgement.’ 

The comments come amid an increasingly bitter row over Arm’s future home as Softbank seeks to sell the company. Softbank founder Masayoshi Son is planning to list Arm on the stock market in New York. 

MPs, leading City figures and industry experts argued, however, that Arm should return to the stock market in London. 

The issue has been highlighted by the Mail’s Back British Tech campaign.

The row has sparked fresh anger over the sale to Softbank, which deprived the London Stock Exchange of its leading technology company. 

Then chancellor Philip Hammond insisted the deal would turn a ‘great British company into a global phenomenon’. Anxious to promote the economy in the wake of the Brexit vote, he added: ‘Britain is open for business – and open for foreign investment.’ 

But earlier this month he attempted to wash his hands of the deal. 

He told the Mail: ‘I hardly had any role, it was my first week in office. I inherited the deal. I can’t claim responsibility.’ 

Having taken control of Arm in 2016, Son struck a deal to sell the company to US chip giant Nvidia for £30billion in 2020. But the deal collapsed this year under scrutiny from regulators around the world and he is now looking to list Arm on the stock market. 

Lord Vinson, 90, who co-founded the Centre for Policy Studies with Margaret Thatcher, said: ‘Theresa May failed to find a reason to block the deal. Alongside Thatcher I was a free marketer but I still advocated a moral framework. It’s not just about taking the money. Greed is not good.

‘The Arm deal was a mistake, it was a national treasure.’