Political Viewpoints Blocked: Nigel Farage Protests

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François-Joseph Schichan is a former diplomat, consultant in geopolitics and European affairs at the consulting firm Flint Global.

Nigel Farage’s bank accounts with UK bank Coutts were closed a few months ago. The venerable financial institution – which is also the bank of the royal family – said it had closed Mr Farage’s accounts because his political opinions were “in conflict with the values defended by the bank”.

The list of charges against him by the bank is eloquent: the bank’s internal report highlights his role in the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016, his statements on the vaccine against Covid-19 or his objections against climate and environmental policies. According to the report, these positions put the bank at risk to its reputation, justifying the closure of the accounts of the person concerned.

In other words, Nigel Farage was expelled from the Coutts bank for offenses of opinion. This decision reveals a widespread ideological approach in the private sector and in particular within the financial sector, which consists in attacking those who dare to challenge the dominant thought. The fact that progressive “woke” ideology is increasingly present in some companies is not a surprise, but this case shows that a new step has been taken.

Coutts’ attitude shows that a bank can put together a file on the political opinions of one of its customers, and on this basis decide whether the latter is worthy of having an account with it. Are there any other records made on Coutts bank clients? How many accounts have been closed based on this? Is this approach common in other banks in the UK and Europe? Are there today political criteria to be fulfilled in order to have a bank account? The Rassemblement National’s past difficulties in obtaining banking services in France suggest that this is the case. The closure of PayPal accounts of organizations critical of successive lockdowns during the pandemic follows the same logic.

By closing the accounts of Nigel Farage, it is also a whole part of the British electorate that the Coutts bank has decided to exclude.

Francois-Joseph Schichan

The question posed by this affair is not that of the opinions of Nigel Farage. These can perfectly be criticized and are open to criticism in many respects. It is first of all a question of principle: no one should be deprived of access to banking services for their political opinions. A private bank can of course choose which individuals it decides to do business with – but there must be limits, in the same way that it is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent property to an individual on the basis of their skin color or nationality.

This article is originally published on lefigaro.fr

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