U.K.’s Farage Delivers Big Blow to Woke Banking

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2023
by Neil Banerji

AMAC Exclusive – By Neil Banerji

Nigel Farage sitting down at a conference in 2014

A recent banking scandal in Britain centering on former U.K Independence Party leader Nigel Farage – one of the chief architects of Brexit – has reignited concerns about “de-banking” in the age of woke capitalism and cancel culture.

According to a report published by The Daily Mail late last month, Coutts, a 331-year-old British bank that has been long regarded for its selectivity and secrecy (it has served several successive generations of the Royal Family) attempted to “exit” Farage as a client because of his conservative views.

On July 4, the BBC initially reported that Coutts had shut Farage’s bank account for “falling below the wealth limit.” The source for the report was kept anonymous, indicating that it was someone inside the bank.

But a few weeks later, on July 19, Farage turned over a 40-page internal bank document to the Mail showing that Coutts actually closed his account because Farage’s views were “at odds with our position as an inclusive organization.”

The document, a briefing from the bank’s “reputational risk committee,” shows top executives at Coutts specifically acknowledging that Farage’s account did not fall below the minimum threshold limit – a revelation that sparked a retraction and apology from the BBC.

The briefing described Farage as a “disingenuous grifter” with “xenophobic, chauvinistic and racist views,” also making note of his close relationship with former President Donald Trump and opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine. At least 13 specific tweets were mentioned in the briefing, including one where Farage retweeted a Ricky Gervais sketch satirizing the transgender movement.

While admitting that Farage’s conduct with the bank was professional, the report stated, “These remarks are distasteful & appear increasingly out of touch with wider society.”

Although Farage is perhaps the most high-profile figure to date to be subjected to “de-banking,” he is hardly the only person to experience this particularly terrifying and tyrannical form of cancel culture.

In June 2021, Wells Fargo, one of the largest retail banks in the United States, closed the bank account of conservative Christian activist and vocal Donald Trump supporter Lauren Witzke without warning. Witzke announced in a Telegram post that she woke up to a $0.00 balance and the bank told her it would “mail her a check” – leaving her stranded during a trip to Florida with no way to pay her way home.

That same day, Wells Fargo also shut down the account of conservative commentator Peter D’Abrosca, calling it a “business decision.”

A few months later, in September, Chase Bank closed the account of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Last year in Canada, banks froze the accounts of customers who donated to or supported the “Freedom Convoy” trucker protests. In one instance, a single mother was locked out of her bank account for donating $50 to the demonstrators.

In some cases, “de-banking” has even been undertaken at the behest of national governments. The Biden administration has pressured financial institutions to close the accounts of coal and oil companies. This effort is itself an apparent revival of the infamous Obama-era “Operation Choke Point,” which weaponized government agencies against industries deemed unsavory (such as gun-manufacturers) by threatening their banks with regulatory action if they did not drop the targeted businesses as clients.

However, Farage’s cancellation may have proven to be a bridge too far for woke corporatism.

In response to Coutts shutting down Farage’s account, conservatives and liberals alike in the British government immediately rallied to his support, recognizing the dangerous precedent Coutts was setting.

U.K. prime minister Rishi Sunak – hardly a Farage ally – tweeted, “This is wrong. No one should be barred from using basic services for their political views. Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy.”

City Minister Andrew Griffith similarly argued, “It would be of serious concern if financial services were being denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech. Businesses have the right to protect against real risks to their reputation — for example from criminal activity — but the privilege of a banking license in a democracy should imply a duty not to ‘debank’ simply because you don’t agree with someone’s views.”

U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the scandal “exposes the sinister nature of much of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion industry,” while Energy Secretary Grant Shapps, whom The Daily Mail notes has “clashed bitterly with Mr. Farage before,” called the incident a “disgrace.”

Amid mounting public pressure, the CEO of both Coutts and Coutts parent company NatWest Group resigned late last month. In a statement, former NatWest CEO Alison Rose admitted she had shared Farage’s personal information with a journalist and had “fallen below the bank’s high standards of personal service.”

Farage’s willingness to fight back resulted in a major blow to woke banking. If more high-profile figures – on both the left and the right – can show similar courage, cancel culture may soon be canceled itself.

Neil Banerji is a proud Las Vegas resident and former student at the University of Oxford. In his spare time, he enjoys reading Winston Churchill and Edmund Burke

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