Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage: ‘This is serious political persecution at the very highest level of our system’ © Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Nigel Farage, former Brexit party leader, has claimed he is being driven out of the UK by a pro-Remain banking establishment that will not let him open an account.

Farage said on Thursday that his bank accounts with an unnamed “prestigious” institution were about to be closed down without explanation, despite having been a customer for more than 40 years.

In a six-minute video on Twitter, Farage said he was being made to feel like a “non person” after seven separate lenders refused to let him open personal and business accounts.

“The establishment are trying to force me out of the UK by closing my bank accounts,” Farage claimed. “This is serious political persecution at the very highest level of our system.”

The former leader of the UK Independence party and its successor Brexit party said he wanted to share his concern about his ostracisation from the banking system, having kept it to himself for several months.

Farage said he would soon be unable to borrow money, obtain a mortgage or have a debit card linked to a UK account. He said he wondered “whether I can even stay living in this country”.

In his Twitter statement, Farage advanced three theories as to why he appears to have fallen out of favour with the banks, including the notion that he is a victim of a Remainer plot.

“The banks did not want Brexit to happen,” he said. “The corporate world will never forgive me.”

Farage also said that he may have been covered by the “politically exposed person” regime, which requires banks to carry out extra checks on elected politicians and their families in case they are open to foreign bribery.

He admitted that it was sensible for banks to ensure that foreign countries were not paying money to “corrupt politicians” but said the extra compliance costs for banks had to be proportionate.

The Financial Services and Markets bill, which received royal assent on Thursday, will require regulators to draw a distinction between lower-risk domestic PEPs and overseas ones, but those rules are not yet in place.

Farage’s third theory is that banks have been scared off by claims that he says are totally false — made under parliamentary privilege last year by Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant — that he received £548,573 from the Kremlin-backed Russia Today television station in 2018.

Bryant has never repeated the claim outside of parliament and there appears to be no evidence to support his claim. Bryant declined to comment. “The truth is I’ve never received any money from any sources with any link to Russia,” Farage said.

Farage added there was “nothing improper or unusual in what I do”, but there was little sympathy from some other politicians. One minister, when told of Farage’s situation, replied on WhatsApp with a “crying with laughter” emoji.

General principles outlined by UK Finance, which represents the banking industry, state that when exiting a customer, lenders must balance their role supporting customers with occasions where they cannot offer or continue with their services.

“These occasions may arise for different reasons, for example, the customer’s credit rating, the customer’s geographical presence, the customer’s money laundering risk or the customer’s terrorist financing risk,” UK Finance says. “In every case, a bank must treat the customer fairly and communicate in plain language,” it continues.

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