Top executives in the British banking sector were “read the riot act” by the government over the politicly inspired debanking of Brexit leader Nigel Farage as Downing Street prepares new legislation to protect freedom of speech from activist financiers.
The fallout of Nigel ‘Mr Brexit’ Farage having his account shut down over expressing his political views, his friendships, and even his Twitter use and the subsequent leaks to the BBC from since departed NatWest banking group Dame Alison Rose continues to intensify, with potentially major ramifications on the future of banking in Britain.
As Mr Farage is preparing to launch a campaign to represent others who have been unjustly debanked over their political views, the Conservative government has been surprisingly ardent in its efforts to crack down on politicised banks, a break from the party’s longtime alliance with financial establishment.
On Wednesday, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister Andrew Griffith met with the bosses of some of the biggest banks in the country, including Barclays, HSBC, Nationwide, Santander, and NatWest which owns the Coutts bank that closed Mr Farage’s account for his friendships with political figures such as former President Donald Trump and for expressing opinions in public that did not “align” with the bank’s values.
Following his meeting with the bankers, Mr Griffith said per The Telegraph: “It’s not the job of banks to tell us what to think or what political party we should support. The Government’s been extremely clear on this in a democracy that relies upon freedom of expression, and freedom of thought.
“That isn’t a legitimate thing for a bank to remove someone’s access to a bank account – a really important building block of society today and that’s what I made clear in the meeting that I held with top bank bosses and the heads of building society’s this morning.”
Scalp! Bank Boss Resigns With Immediate Effect Over Leaking Nigel Farage’s Private Information to BBC https://t.co/vNav2sEQIa
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 26, 2023
A Treasury source told the Daily Mail that Mr Griffith had “read the riot act” to the executives and expressed to them that politically-inspired debanking will “not be tolerated” by the government. The source went on to say that the bankers admitted during the meeting that the debanking of Mr Farage had “impacted public trust for the whole sector” and pledged that they would comply with the impending government policy on the issue in order to “restore confidence”.
The bankers also allegedly agreed to begin implementing some of the expected changes to the law immediately rather than waiting for legislation to be passed.
It is expected that a bill will be brought before parliament by the autumn to introduce regulations on bank account closures. Under the current framework being discussed, banks would need to give customers a 90-day advanced warning before closing their accounts and must explain their rationale for doing so, with some exceptions being made in cases that might impact police investigations.
Perhaps most significantly, however, the government is said to also be discussing adding a clause to the bill that would mandate banks honour the principles of free speech as a condition for them receiving a licence to operate in the United Kingdom.
Farage Ups the Ante: Bank Faces £17.5 Million Fine as ‘Mr Brexit’ Files Complaint over Passing Info to BBChttps://t.co/UT6MKC80Xf
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 23, 2023
In addition to the pending changes to the law, NatWest, the banking group at the core of the Farage scandal, may face financial penalties or government investigations for its politically inspired decision to drop Mr Farage.
Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, said: “NatWest is no ordinary bank; it is still almost 40 per cent owned by the UK taxpayer, and the political and regulatory ramifications of this episode are likely to ripple out for months to come.”
Mr Farage, who has a long track record of waging populist campaigns, has said that he intends to continue hammering the banks and that he will be gathering together with other people in the country who have been wrongly debanked by the industry, vowing: “I will do my best to be their voice.”
Politically speaking, the Brexit leader may have handed the struggling Tory government a policy position to stand on that is actually popular with the public.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party has seemingly been intent on siding with the banks, an ironic position in light of their supposed commitment to the working class. Yet, it appears that the leftist distaste for free speech has won out, with many arguing that as private businesses banks should be able to drop customers for political reasons.
Counterarguments to that position assert that banks are not ordinary businesses and in this day and age provide a service which is essential to operating in society.
Picking up on the trend among the British left, former Brexit Minister Lord David Frost said that the Labour Party “doesn’t mind if private companies punish you for your political opinions. They’ve come a long way from supporting union members against employer blacklists.”
“In its heart Labour is with the new establishment that likes to tell you what you can do and think.”
Nigel Farage had his bank account shut over his ties to Donald Trump and for views that Coutts bank felt did “not align with our values”. https://t.co/vf8y8gZjSn
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 19, 2023
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter: Follow @KurtZindulka or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the full article here