Heads roll over Nigel Farage de-banking controversy

July 27, 2023
Matthew Boose

The CEO of a top British bank is resigning over the politically motivated de-banking of Brexit campaigner and Trump ally Nigel Farage - in a rare example of cancel culture backfiring on the left.

Dame Alison Rose, of NatWest, took responsibility for leaking information about Farage’s account to Britain’s left-wing state broadcaster, BBC.

“I made a serious error of judgment in discussing Mr Farage’s relationship with the bank [with the BBC],” Rose said in a statement.

De-banking backlash

Not only did she leak, Rose also appears to have lied about the reason for the account closure. The BBC’s initial report said Farage no longer met the wealth threshold for accounts at Coutts, a subsidiary of NatWest.

But Farage, a right-wing provocateur and former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), said he obtained an internal 40-page dossier from the bank about his “xenophobic and racist” political views. Scary.

“I have apologized to Mr Farage for the deeply inappropriate language contained in those papers,” Rose said.

NatWest is partially owned by the British government, which holds a 39 percent stake in the bank. Farage has called for the whole board of the bank to resign.

Heads continued to roll when the boss of Coutts, Peter Flavel, stepped down and took responsibility for the de-banking. The bank’s handling of the situation failed to meet its “high standards of personal service,” Flavel said.

Culture shift

The conservative government weighed in, as well, calling de-banking an unacceptable infringement of free speech.

“This would never have happened if NatWest had not taken it upon itself to withdraw a bank account due to someone’s lawful political views. That was and is always unacceptable,” Treasury Minister Andrew Griffith added.

Farage said the controversy at NatWest was part of a wider culture shift and that he had been rejected by 10 other banks already. He warned those other banks to think twice about rejecting customers over politics.

“It was the board that sanctioned this culture. A culture that talks about diversity and inclusion, but actually is very divisive, and in my case — as you can clearly see — is pretty poisonous stuff," he said.

It's nice to see authoritarians on the left held accountable, for a change. This kind of thing certainly doesn't happen often enough.

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