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Banks Told They Must Protect Free Speech After Nigel Farage Debanked

Banks Told They Must Protect Free Speech After Nigel Farage Debanked

The UK Treasury Department is set to introduce rules to prohibit banks from dropping customers over their political views in response to a growing controversy exposed when Brexit leader Nigel Farage said last week that he might be forced to leave the country after being blacklisted by several lenders.

The Treasury is reportedly set to publish requirements demanding banks uphold principles of freedom of speech, in addition to mandates that lenders reveal their reasoning for closing an account. Should they fail to abide by such rules, regulators will be able to take punitive action against the banks. In comments provided to The Daily Telegraph, a Treasury source said: “It is absolutely a concern. No one should have their bank account denied on the grounds of freedom of expression. We expect to take action on this issue within weeks.” “Banks and payment providers occupy a privileged place in society and it would be a concern if financial services were being denied to those exercising the right to lawful free speech.” The apparent policy change from the government comes after ‘Mr Brexit’ Nigel Farage revealed that his bank, which he had been a customer of since the 1980s, had shut down his account without providing a reason for doing so. Farage went on to claim that seven other banks have so far refused to do business with him. Responding to the impending action from the Treasury, Mr Farage said: “This is the beginning of something very important. Our banks must be politically neutral. Well done to the treasury. Now we need fast action.” Since revealing his difficulties in finding a bank, something that is basically required to exist in modern society, many other Britons have come forward to relay their own experiences of politically motivated debanking. Several mths after I was elected Brexit Party MEP, my family & I had all of our accs closed. Even though I’d been a loyal customer for 30yrs.👇was their reply.To those cheering & celebrating the cancellation of @Nigel_Farage’s bank accs, let’s hope it never happens to you. — Christina Jordan (@CJordanjb) June 29, 2023 Former Brexit Party MEP Christina Jordan said that shortly after being elected to the European Parliament, the bank accounts held by her and her family had been shut down without providing justification. A fellow former Brexit Party MEP, Henrik Overgaard Nielsen also claimed that he was dropped by his bank without explanation, saying: “I made a formal complaint but received neither an acknowledgement nor answer.” An Anglican church leader, Rev Richard Fothergill, also claimed that the Yorkshire Building Society dropped him as a customer for pushing back against radical transgender Ideology. Fothergill, who had been with the financial services for 17 years, said that after posting some feedback in an online portal about his misgivings around the embrace of transgenderism, he received a letter saying that his account would be closed as the Yorkshire Building Society has a “zero tolerance approach to discrimination”. Meanwhile, the granddaughter of former Conservative Party MP and Margaret Thatcher Cabinet member, Nigel Lawson, has also reportedly struggled to secure a bank account. Despite the fact that she has Down’s Syndrome, her family was informed in 2016 by a local Barclays bank that they would not open an account for her because of “money-laundering risks,” according to her father, columnist Dominic Lawson. Although her condition would seemingly mitigate any concerns around money laundering, the bank told them that it was a result of being related to her grandfather, Nigel Lawson — then a member of the House of Lords — who was deemed a “Politically Exposed Person”. Nigel Farage's former Brexit Party, which has been rebranded after the departure from the EU as the Reform Party, had its bank account closed. — Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 9, 2021 This was apparently the classification that caused Mr Farage to have trouble opening a new bank account in the UK, with the Brexit leader speculating that he might have been classified as a “Politically Exposed Person” after years of being “falsely accused of having financial links to Russian funding.” “Even though this is nonsense, MPs have used parliamentary privilege to accuse various people associated with the Brexit campaign of the same thing. Last year, the Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant claimed in the Commons chamber that I received £548,573 in one calendar year “from the Russian state”. Despite my pleas to him and the Speaker to correct this assertion, there has been no retraction,” Mr Farage wrote in The Telegraph.

The classification of a ‘Politically Exposed Person’ or PEP dates back to an initiative from the G7 in 1989 and was later adopted by the European Union. Given that the allegedly Conservative governments following Brexit have so far refused to repeal all EU laws, the PEP classification remains on the books in Britain. Last week, Parliament passed an amendment calling on the Treasury to change PEP regulations so that British PEPs are treated as having a “lower risk” than foreign actors. However, Mr Farage has warned that this is not the only issue and that politically motivated banking should be prohibited by law, warning: “Be aware: if they are coming for me today, they can come for you tomorrow. If you were to post a political opinion on social media that did not conform to your bank’s ‘values’, you could find yourself in my position.” Debanking Has Arrived: Farage Pursues Legal Action as He’s Left Without Bank Account — Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 30, 2023.

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