Cancel culture, already the blight of British universities, seems to be creeping into banking, said The Daily Telegraph.
Look at the plight of the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who says that his personal and business accounts have been closed without explanation by a bank that he has used since 1980: Coutts & Co, NatWest’s high-end private division. Farage claims that he has since tried to open an account with nine other banks, but has been rejected – a form of punishment, he suspects, for his role in Brexit.
‘Banks must not play politics’
One must be careful not to rush to judgement in such cases, said The Times. But he is not alone in apparently being targeted for violating fashionable corporate orthodoxies. An Anglican vicar in Cumbria had his bank account with the Yorkshire Building Society closed down because he’d objected to its stance on trans issues. The Free Speech Union had its PayPal accounts frozen last year. This is disgraceful. Banks must not “play politics with their own customers”.
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It is indeed a good idea not to rush to judgement, said Simon Jack on BBC News. People “familiar with Coutts’s move” said that it was not a political decision, but a purely “commercial” one. Farage’s funds had fallen below the threshold required to hold an account at Coutts (£3m in savings). He has been offered a NatWest account instead.
‘Absurdly onerous regulations’
Besides, if Farage is having trouble opening a new account, it’s not a “woke conspiracy”, said Sean O’Grady in The Independent. It’s the law. Farage is a “politically exposed person”, or PEP, someone whose political role opens them up to a risk of bribery. This means that, under the money laundering regulations, banks have to vet and check their income. It is a tricky and time-consuming process; sometimes banks reject such customers, as is their right.
But these regulations are absurdly onerous, said Dominic Lawson in the Daily Mail. They affect not just MPs, diplomats, judges and so on but their families. My 28-year-old daughter, who has Down’s syndrome, was unable to open a Barclays account because her grandfather – the late Nigel Lawson – had been identified as a PEP. This is ridiculous: not a single MP has been prosecuted for money-laundering. Parliament is now pushing for an overdue change to the rules.
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