Britain's Osborne says priority is to save Co-op Bank

LONDON (REUTERS) - British finance minister George Osborne said on Monday that his first priority was to save the Co-operative Bank, which has been hit by a drugs scandal involving its former chairman.

Mr Osborne has ordered an inquiry into the bank and why Mr Paul Flowers, a one-time local Labour politician and Methodist preacher with no banking qualifications, was judged suitable for the chairmanship during a period when it nearly collapsed.

"The first priority is to save this incredibly important bank," he told BBC Radio on Monday morning.

"A huge amount of my time, and the time of the Treasury, is spent on making sure this bank survives, and survives in a way that does not depend on a taxpayer bailout, which we are on the move away from in this country."