30 July 2023

Nigel Farage plans ‘powerful lobby group’ to oppose de-banking

30 July 2023

Nigel Farage hopes to “build a powerful lobby group” to oppose de-banking, as it was reported that banks are closing more than 1,000 accounts every working day.

The ex-Ukip leader has launched a new website to campaign on behalf of people whose accounts have been shut, after private bank Coutts caused a crisis at its parent company, NatWest, by closing his account.

On Sunday, the former MEP told GB News, where he works as a presenter, that “every option is on the table” with regard to taking legal action against NatWest after it shared his personal information.

He told the broadcaster: “Nobody with profile who has been de-banked has come forward.

“Two reasons: one, a sense of shame, humiliation and embarrassment, but, secondly, it would damage their prospects of getting any other bank account.

“But what I’ve learnt is this – it isn’t just high-profile people with strong opinions that are being closed down by banks that have become completely politicised in the most extraordinary way.

“What I’ve learned in the three weeks since I came out, as it were… I’ve just been inundated by small businesses, by folk all round the country. People in absolute fear, terror, lives being ruined, thousands of businesses being closed.

“These are people who have done nothing wrong whatsoever.”

It came as the Mail on Sunday reported that the number of bank accounts closed has risen in recent years from under 50,000 in 2016 to almost 350,000 last year.

The paper said it obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information request to the Financial Conduct Authority watchdog.

I want this to be a turning point in this whole appalling behaviour from banks

Mr Farage’s crusade against NatWest has led to the resignation of chief executive Dame Alison Rose and Coutts boss Peter Flavel, with his campaign on account closures winning the backing of ministers and Tory MPs.

Dame Alison quit after admitting being the source of a BBC report suggesting Mr Farage fell below the financial threshold to hold an account with high-net worth bank Coutts, triggering concerns that she breached confidentiality rules.

NatWest chairman Sir Howard Davies, however, has resisted pressure from Mr Farage and others to quit, insisting it is important for the bank’s stability that he remains on the board.

On Friday, City minister Andrew Griffith, who led the Government response to the issue, said Sir Howard should remain in post.

Mr Farage said: “I do not want what has happened to me to happen to anybody else. And it’s clear from today’s newspapers, it has been happening to an awful lot of people.

“I want this to be a turning point in this whole appalling behaviour from banks. Whether it’s high-profile figures or people running a fish stall, what has happened within this industry is wrong.

“It’s become, frankly, self-serving in its own interests. It’s damaging Britain and I want real change.

“I want to see a cultural change but Government and Parliament needs to go through the legislation, this simply isn’t working. It’s not just ruining lives in Britain, it’s damaging businesses in Britain.

“The information we’ve got out today is that 1,000 bank accounts a day are being closed. Every single day 1,000 people, whether it’s their personal or business accounts, are being closed down.

“There are tens of thousands of people out there, maybe more, who are being wronged by the banks whose lives have been ruined, they have had no-one to speak for them.

“They’ve been suffering in silence and that’s why I’ve launched this website today – accountclosed.org. If you’ve been closed down, if you’ve been suspended, then come and tell me who you are, help me to help you.”

Former prime minister Liz Truss has also backed Mr Farage, writing in The Sunday Telegraph that “heads have rightly rolled” in the wake of the row.

It came as senior Tory MP David Davis, writing in The Sun, suggested he will bring forward a Private Member’s Bill in the Commons to “guarantee everyone has a right to a bank account”.

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