Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned banks the Government would not “stand idly by” if they failed to rein in lavish bonuses.
He called for “visible restraint” in the forthcoming bonus round and indicated he was determined the coalition would step in if necessary.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he said: “They don’t operate in a social vacuum.
“The banks should not be under any illusion, this Government cannot stand idly by.
“It is wholly untenable to have millions of people making sacrifices in their living standards, only to see the banks getting away scot-free.”
His comments will appeal to many Liberal Democrats after a period of intense difficulty for Mr Clegg, their leader, over the increase in university tuition fees.
He made clear that he did not intend to fight shy of taking on the banks, even if that meant undermining efforts to ease tensions between them and the Government.
“We can’t do that unless we have a cathartic settlement where we see visible restraint from the banks and sensitivity to the context in which they operate,” he said.