‘If they can cancel me, they can cancel you’: Nigel Farage warns on threat of ‘woke’ banks in exclusive Mail interview as he goes public with dossier showing Coutts axed him for not being ‘inclusive’ – and vows to ‘fight all the way’ for free speech
Nigel Farage delivered a stark warning about the threat from ‘woke’ banks tonight after going public with a dossier showing Coutts axed him for not being ‘inclusive’.
In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, the prominent Eurosceptic warned that his experience is just the tip of the iceberg.
Vowing to ‘fight all the way’ against the Natwest-owned firm, Mr Farage said people needed to realise that ‘if they can cancel me, they can cancel you’.
The ex-Ukip leader admitted he considered whether to risk the ’embarrassment’ of openly admitting that he had been rejected by the famous three-century old bank.
He also revealed that he has struggled to get another account in the UK after being cut adrift by Coutts.
But Mr Farage said he had obtained details of the bank’s secret discussions about him using the legal right to make a ‘subject access request’ about personal data.
He stressed that was something anyone could do – but he only knew about it thanks to a business contact.
In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Nigel Farage warned that his experience is just the tip of the iceberg
Mr Farage said his experience was ‘ just a symptom of a much bigger problem’, which was only sparking debate because of his public profile
The 40-page file that emerged, handed to MailOnline this morning, showed Coutts, which has been part of the NatWest group since 1969, had deemed the politician-turned-broadcaster’s views to be ‘at odds’ with its position as an ‘inclusive organisation’
The 40-page file that emerged, handed to MailOnline this morning, showed Coutts, which has been part of the NatWest group since 1969, had deemed the politician-turned-broadcaster’s views to be ‘at odds’ with its position as an ‘inclusive organisation’.
The documents raise concerns about Mr Farage’s support for Donald Trump and the UK leaving the European Convention on Human Rights – as well as bizarrely his friendship with tennis player Novak Djokovic.
Tories have branded the bank’s actions ‘sinister’ and a ‘disgrace’, while even some Labour MPs have voiced disquiet.
Rishi Sunak intervened in the bitter dispute this afternoon as he pledged a crackdown on banks cancelling customers’ accounts due to their political views.
Speaking at PMQs, he lashed out at action being taken against account holders who were ‘exercising their right to lawful free speech’.
Mr Farage said his experience was ‘just a symptom of a much bigger problem’, which was only sparking debate because of his public profile.
‘Accounts have been closed in their thousands over the last few years, for a variety of reasons, politically exposed people, there’s an increased compliance cost to the bank and we’ve broadened the definition from African dictators, not just to British MPs but even to their grandchildren, their parents, their families, so that’s one issue that’s been bubbling away.
‘The other is the vicar, for example, up in Yorkshire, who goes to his building society and sees that it’s become an advert for pride month, and says, hey guys, all I want to do is use you as a building society, they close his account.
‘Right through to the thousands of businesses this year that have their accounts closed because they’re paying in cash, and the banks would rather people didn’t use cash, again because of anti-money laundering laws, bad regulation, over enforced in this country.’
Mr Farage said he believed Coutts ‘thought I would just slink away, I’d be too embarrassed to say in public that an account had been closed on me’.
‘But no, I’m going to stand up and fight this and fight it all the way,’ he said.
Mr Farage said he had banked with NatWest – currently part-owned by the taxpayer – since the 1980s.
He said he switched to Coutts around ten years ago, and had a mortgage which he paid off ”just a few months ago, ahead of time’.
‘But it seems that since Brexit happened, is when the issues have occurred. I got a phone call out of the blue, from a new personal manager who been appointed to me, but never spoken to me, just to say: ‘We are closing your accounts’.’
Mr Farage said after receiving ‘no explanation whatsoever’ for the move he decided to ‘start kicking up a fuss’.
When he started ‘gently’ speaking in public about the situation, he was ‘bombarded by people from all over the country who’ve had their accounts closed’.
‘Many people living in fear. Because don’t forget, without a bank account, you’re a non-person,’ he said.
‘You can’t exist in an increasingly digitalised age, how do you pay the gas bill?’
Mr Farage accused Coutts of briefing media that the account was closed because he had ‘insufficient funds’.
‘A friend said to me look, I’ve been having terrible trouble with banks, if you go for subject access requests, which by the way folks, you can do for free, if you’re worried about your bank, put them in, and that was to give me full personal data.
‘And it’s all come out. It’s far worse than I thought. I thought it was going to be around my politically exposed person status, but what I found was actually no, it’s all around my views, my unacceptable views…
‘Do you realise, I have questioned our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights? Worse still, I’m a Novak Djokovic fan.’
Mr Farage said he was ‘cancelled’ because he did not ‘fit their diversity and inclusion agenda’.
He warned that some businesses were now ‘basically campaigners for social change’.
‘They are overtly political now, in everything that they do. And my real message to people is, if they can cancel me, they can cancel you,’ he said.
‘It starts with me being cancelled for political reasons. There have been others in the past that it’s happened to, but my worry is this spreads into a much bigger phenomenon, and we almost finish up like China with a social credit system, where unless you have acceptable views, you can’t participate in society.’
The former MEP went on: ‘Three months ago, I didn’t even know subject access requests existed.
‘But now I know, lets tell other people, if they’re getting aggro from their bank, they’re having their overdraft limits cut, they’re being denied mortgages, put one of these in and find out what they’re saying about you.’
Mr Farage said regardless of political views ‘surely it should be a right for people, provided they live and behave within the law, to have normal banking facilities’.
Rishi Sunak and David Davis both voiced concern in the Commons today about the treatment of Mr Farage
‘I’m actually thrilled by the response that I’ve got from cabinet ministers like Grant Shapps, from the city minister Andrew Griffith, who’s personally been in touch with me to ensure me they’re going to have a look at the law.
‘Even the prime minister today, Rishi Sunak has said nobody for having legal opinions should be closed out of anything.
‘They’ve been my enemies for a quarter of a century. But suddenly, here’s an issue that is not about left or right – it’s not about whether you’re pro or anti-EU or any of these things.
‘It should be a basic right that everybody in this country could have a bank account, could set up a business account.’
Mr Farage said that while politicians often failed to deliver on promises, he thought the government would respond this time.
‘When it comes to affect them in Westminster, I think cynically they’re more likely to act,’ he said.
A Coutts spokeswoman said: ‘Our ability to respond is restricted by our obligations of client confidentiality.
‘Decisions to close accounts are not taken lightly and take into account a number of factors including commercial viability, reputational considerations and legal and regulatory requirements.
‘As the client has previously confirmed, alternative banking arrangements have been offered within the wider group.’
Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Nikhil Rathi told MPs: ‘You’d expect that we are talking to NatWest Group about this.
‘A specific adjudication on an individual case is a matter for the Financial Ombudsman Service.’
He told the Treasury Select Committee: ‘If a complaint is made and it is determined that there has not been an appropriate consideration of this case, that would then of course be relevant for us from a supervisory perspective.’
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