A LEADING businessman from East Lancashire has slammed Thomas Cook's "fat cat" former bosses after the 178-year-old travel firm collapsed - leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded.

Dave Fishwick, the entrepreneur behind Burnley-based Bank of Dave, has savaged the company's board, after it emerged directors had been paid millions in bonuses.

The Sabden-based TV star has spoken out as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Business Secretary Angela Leadsom have also weighed in with similar criticisms.

Dave said: "Thomas Cook goes bust leaving 150,000 British people stranded abroad, while their Fat Cat bosses secured £20million for themselves plus huge pensions!

"Also City hedge funds shorted stock, helping to force share price down and cashing in on peoples misery. It's all just bloody wrong!"

The Prime Minister has also questioned whether directors should pay themselves "large sums of money" as their businesses go "down the tubes" following the demise of Thomas Cook.

Mr Johnson has defended the Government's decision not to bail out the travel company, hinted at forcing companies to be properly insured against collapse.

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He said: "I think the questions we've got to ask ourselves now: How can this thing be stopped from happening in the future?

"How can we make sure that tour operators take proper precautions with their business models where you don't end up with a situation where the taxpayer, the state, is having to step in and bring people home?

"I have questions for one about whether it's right that the directors, or whoever, the board, should pay themselves large sums when businesses can go down the tubes like that."

Asked about sanctions on directors and tougher rules, the PM added: "I think that you need to have some system by which tour operators properly insure themselves against this kind of eventuality."

The repatriation effort, on behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority is estimated to cost the taxpayer at least £100million.

Mr Johnson also said: "It is perfectly true that a request was made to the Government for a subvention of about £150 million.

"Clearly that's a lot of taxpayers' money and sets up, as people will appreciate, a moral hazard in the case of future such commercial difficulties that companies face."

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell blamed the Tory Government's "ideological bias" against state intervention for the decision not to intervene.

"The Government's intervention could have enabled us to just stabilise the situation, give a breathing space so that there could be proper consultation with the workforce in particular about how to go forward," he added.

"To just stand to one side and watch this number of jobs go and so many holidaymakers have their holiday ruined, I just don't think that's wise government."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the repatriation operation would cost £100 million, less than the sum requested by Thomas Cook.

He added: "The company were asking for up to £250 million, they needed about £900 million on top of that and they've got debts of £1.7 billion, so the idea of just spending taxpayers' money on that just wasn't really a goer."