Ministers rowed in behind long-time foe Nigel Farage after a bombshell dossier laid bare the reasons he was ‘cancelled’ by Coutts.
The 40-page file shows that the bank cited his retweet of a Ricky Gervais joke and his friendship with Novak Djokovic to raise concerns he was ‘xenophobic and racist’.
The extraordinary documents obtained by the former Ukip leader and handed to MailOnline revealed the 331-year-old bank decided to ‘exit’ him after making reference to his friendship with former Wimbledon champion Djokovic.
The tennis player, who lost in the men’s singles final in SW19 on Sunday, made headlines over his decision not to have the Covid-19 vaccine during the pandemic.
The dossier also shows the bank’s discussions considered 13 tweets, including a retweet by Mr Farage of a video of a Ricky Gervais sketch posted by Laurence Fox satirising the transgender movement.
In the scene Gervais made a joke about ‘old-fashioned women – the ones with wombs’.
Mr Farage had retweeted the clip in May last year with the phrase ‘this is brilliant’ – but the document described it as a ‘transphobic comedy sketch’.
The officials noted that closing his accounts could not be justified on the basis of his wealth as his ‘economic contribution’ was ‘sufficient to retain on a commercial basis’.
But the minutes state: ‘The Committee did not think continuing to bank NF was compatible with Coutts given his publicly-stated views that were at odds with our position as an inclusive organisation’.
Rishi Sunak vowed a crackdown on public figures being effectively punished for their political views after being repeatedly challenged to act by Tory MPs at PMQs this afternoon.
And Tory ministers have lined up behind Mr Farage against the bank, owned by NatWest, with Suella Braverman branding the situation ‘sinister’.
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps – who has clashed bitterly with Mr Farage before – said it was a ‘disgrace’.
Labour MPs have also broken cover to voice disquiet.
The dossier also referred to accusations made by Labour MP Chris Bryant under parliamentary privilege that Mr Farage was paid more than £500,000 by the Russian state – a claim he vehemently denies.
Mr Farage said: ‘This document is astonishing, it’s abusive and it makes a whole series of wildly false statements about Russia while acknowledging I have not been convicted of anything.’
He disclosed last month that Coutts had informed him of its decision to close down his account, branding the move ‘political persecution’.
Other customers who claimed to have been abandoned by lenders due to their political views also came forward.They included a priest who said his account was shut because he complained about his building society’s messages during Pride month.
The BBC went on to report, citing ‘people familiar with Coutts’s move’, that it was a ‘commercial’ decision to shut Mr Farage’s accounts as they fell below the financial threshold required by the bank.
The Coutts documents, which Mr Farage obtained from the bank through a ‘subject access request’, details discussions by a ‘Wealth Reputational Risk Committee’ on November 17 last year.
They read: ‘The committee did not think continuing to bank NF [Nigel Farage] was compatible with Coutts given his publicly-stated views that were at odds with our position as an inclusive organisation.
‘This was not a political decision but one centred around inclusivity and purpose.’