Published On: Sat, Jul 29th, 2023

Farage ready to lead battle with banks over ‘ultimate political suppression’ | Politics | News

Nigel Farage claims the banking scandal is “far, far bigger than any of us had realised” and vowed to be the “agent of change” who will bring it to an end.

The former Ukip leader says he has “blown the lid” off a “major national scandal” and pledged to stand up for others who have had their accounts closed.

He will also be turnign his attetntion to the battle against a cashless society, insisting banknotes were vital to limit the power of financial institutions.

Mr Farage says he has been deluged with stories of ordinary people who have also lost access to services since he revealed how he was dropped by Coutts bankers.

He told the Sunday Express: “They are absolutely everywhere. I’m on the case, I’m moving and I believe I can turn this into a very big campaign.”

The pledge by arguably Britain’s most formidable political campaigner to step up his battle with the banking establishment will send tremors through the sector.

“This is a really big battle for freedom in lots of ways,” he said.

He warned that “controlling people’s money” is the “ultimate form of political suppression and that’s clearly what’s happened to me”.

Last week Dame Alison Rose – the boss of the NatWest banking group which owns Coutts – staged a late-night resignation.

It was initially reported that Mr Farage did not meet the financial threshold to qualify for a Coutts account but he secured the release of an internal document which accused him of “xenophobic, chauvinistic and racist views”.

He now wants to stand up for other people who have had their accounts shut down.

“I think the problem is far, far bigger than any of us had realised,” he said. “I think people have been suffering in silence – too embarrassed to say so in public.

“We never like to talk about our money. The Brits regard talking about money as vulgar.

“I think what I’ve done is blow the lid of something that I think is going to turn out to be a major national scandal.”

He is appalled that citizens could lose access to essential services because of their beliefs.

“Dystopia is almost here, isn’t it?” he said. “I am pleased to raise a flag in an attempt to turn the tide.”

Exclusive polling for the Sunday Express by Omnisis found 54 percent of the public want a “Government investigation into how many bank accounts have been closed in response to customers’ political beliefs”. Just 18 percent were opposed.

The Treasury has unveiled measures to stop people’s accounts being shut down and a Government source stressed its commitment to freedom of speech, saying: “Free speech within the law, and the legitimate expression of differing views, is an important British liberty. Banks don’t police free speech – it is a fundamental right enjoyed by all.

“We will take whatever action necessary to protect it.”

Mr Farage also wants to see swift action to stop banks closing the accounts of “politically exposed persons”.

He warns that unless there are changes a “lot of very good people” who would otherwise consider a career in politics will stay away because “this affects the rest of my family”.

He advises people who are at risk of being dropped by their banks to “open multiple accounts”. Anyone who has lost their account, he said, should “find out the truth as to why you’ve been closed down” by submitting a “subject access request” for documents detailing how the decision was made.

This is part of a bigger banking crusade.

Describing the next issue he has in his sights, he said: “The big one is small businesses who take cash no longer being welcomed by the banks.”

He is determined to oppose attempts to “drive cash out of the system,” saying that if this happens “they can close all the branches, they can control everything”.

This is an issue of concern for the Federation of Small Businesses.

Spokesman Alan Soady, said: “Cash is a crucial part of the payments mix, both from a small business and a consumer perspective, with billions of cash transactions annually. Cash is a natural competitor to digital payments, helping to prevent a monopoly and giving shoppers more choice.

“It’s also a backup for when digital systems fail. The last few years have seen swathes of bank branch closures, which has made it harder for many small businesses to deposit their takings.

“The banking sector must show imagination and a willingness to ensure that sufficient provision of deposit services is available to small firms in all parts of the country, including rural areas.”

Mr Farage says his success in forcing banking issues up the political agenda has made it less likely he will return to full-time politics.

He said: “If I can make this happen as it is, then maybe I can be an agent for change doing it this way?”

The Treasury advises people who have been de-banked to go to the Financial Services Ombudsman who can instruct a bank to keep an account open. Legislation will be published in September to increase the notice period that banks have to give from 30 days to 90.

The Financial Conduct Authority has also been given “sharper teeth” to ensure that major banks and building societies offer free access to cash.

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