Almost 90% back Rees-Mogg’s law change to ban banks closing accounts

Nigel Farage hits back at bank over account closure

Brexiteer Nigel Farage has claimed that his Coutts bank account was closed down due to him being “politically exposed”, sparking concern over banks discriminating against customers.

Former Business Secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg is proposing an amendment to the Digital Markets Bill to ensure banks cannot blacklist accounts over a customer’s political views, a move supported by almost 90 percent of readers, a new poll has found.

Sir Jacob explained to The Telegraph: “It is right for banks to block the accounts of individuals. The problem is they are doing this in far too many cases.

“On an individual basis, it might be reasonable, but it keeps happening and makes you think banks have an agenda.

“Without a bank account you are a non-citizen because we don’t have protection of cash in this country. Many shops no longer take cash. If you don’t have a bank account you are a non-person. You would hope the Government is sympathetic to this amendment.”

READ MORE: Rees-Mogg pushing to ban banks from shutting down accounts of politicians

In a poll that ran from 11am on Tuesday, July 11 to 12.30pm on Thursday, July 13, asked readers: “Should it be illegal for banks to cancel people’s bank accounts?”

A total of 3,156 votes were received with the overwhelming majority of readers, 89 percent (2,808 people), answering “yes” in support of Sir Jacob’s amendment. Whereas 10 percent (317 people) said “no” and a further one percent (31 people) said they did not know.

Dozens of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their thoughts on Sir Jacob’s amendment.

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Username Saralzh agreed that it should be illegal, writing: “The banks definitely need to be regulated on this.”

Another, username Gobsmacker said: “Banks shouldn’t be able to inflict this on people as long as they aren’t money laundering, sponsoring violence, or operating outside the law. It’s a purely political move designed to silence free speech and those they don’t agree with.”

And Username Taterz added: “Only a court should have the power to close a bank account.”

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat agreed that closure on “political grounds” should be “completely unacceptable”, while Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer told LBC last week that she was “quite concerned that people’s bank accounts might be closed for the wrong reasons”.

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The amendment proposed by Sir Jacob would mean that banks need to provide customers with a written statement detailing the reason for closing their accounts within 30 days. It would also allow customers to claim damages for the impact of the inconvenience.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “It would be a serious concern if financial services were being denied to those exercising the right to lawful free speech.”

Whereas other readers commented that banks should retain the power to close accounts, with username SoltonGris writing: “Of course banks should be able to cancel accounts, but only on legal grounds and only after they justify the reason for the cancellation and provide the customer with a chance to challenge any and all information used to come to that decision. There should be harsh penalties if the banks do not do so.

“Banks are not like regular businesses and hold an increasingly critical and privileged position in the lives of all people and legislation should reflect that in its protection of citizens’ rights.”

Username billj39 suaggested: “The current situation in my view is unsatisfactory. I would say a bank should have the right to freeze an account for up to a week. If longer is needed it should be passed to the [Financial Conduct Authority] FCA to investigate, They then decide whether to freeze the account for longer or to unfreeze it.”

And username Voice_of_sanity said: “It’s a free market, banks can do what they want.”

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