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Woke regulation is killing capitalism.

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Written by Catherine McBride

The closure of Nigel Farage’s bank account is a warning to us all that pernicious forces are misusing rules on corporate responsibility and concern for the environment not only to close individual and small business bank accounts, but to undermine an industry that underpins the entire UK economy by starving it of critical finance.

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Most people will have heard of the cancellation of Nigel Farage’s Coutts Bank account and the subsequent lies fed by Alison Rose, CEO of Coutts’ parent company NatWest, to a BBC reporter and her eventual unwilling resignation. This breach of GDPR rules and client confidentiality, the very foundation of banking ethics, on its own should have led to her dismissal for gross misconduct. But Rose also demonstrated clearly that there is no Chinese wall between the Boards of Coutts and NatWest and that customers of Coutts should not expect to keep their accounts open if they dare to question prevailing metropolitan groupthink on ESG, Net Zero and EDI, or don’t celebrate LBGTQWERTYUIOP week (no, we’re not sure what it means either).

Equally disturbing is the real reason behind the decision to close Farage’s account – a report from an internet vendor, World Check, run by Refinitiv. Most of the information was spurious and came from well-known left-leaning or pro-Remain websites and media outlets. It appears that Coutts’ opinion of Farage relied on online ‘evidence’, even though Anti-Money Laundering regulations, which cover due diligence for Politically Exposed Persons, require banks to gather information from a trusted third party. Anyone with a truly diligent mind would have spotted World Check’s anti-Farage bias, and anyone who has followed the news would have known that the worst accusations against Farage had been proven false in court. Farage was, after all, an elected MEP for 20 years, wining a seat in 5 EU parliamentary elections, and ran a successful referendum campaign on EU membership, so if anything, his views reflect mainstream UK political opinion. He is now a very successful broadcaster, with more viewers than the Guardian has readers, but still the luvvies at Coutts don’t want to be associated with him.

Nigel Farage says that he is having trouble finding a new bank. This shouldn’t be a surprise, since most UK based banks have signed up to the same codes. These have nothing to do with whether a client is solvent, employed and able to repay their loans, but whether their opinions match those of the bank’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) officer.

Most UK banks also appear to be using the same or similar internet companies, effectively gossip sites, to supply them with information about possible/potential ‘money laundering’ by their clients. Even Metro Bank, the first challenger high street bank in the UK for over 150 years, has closed people’s accounts without explanation. This is allowed under the regulations, as an explanation about why an account is being closed could ‘tip off’ a real money launderer that they are under investigation.

However, there are apparently over 10,000 people and businesses who have had their bank accounts closed without being given any reason for the closure. It is hard to believe that they were all genuinely suspected of money-laundering. Thanks to the publicity surrounding the Farage case, these people are now also making Subject Access Requests (SARs) to find out why their account was closed.  SARs are permitted by the EU’s much hated General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The irony is probably not lost on Farage; if it weren’t for those pesky EU regulations, he would probably never know why his account was closed and Dame Alison Rose would still have her very lucrative job.

What is more worrying than Nigel Farage and many others including small businesses losing their bank accounts because World Check doesn’t like something that was reported about them (even if untrue), is that Dame Alison Rose has decided to stop lending to the entire UK oil and gas sector.

She announced in a speech on February 9th this year that from that day, NatWest would not provide new customers with financing for oil and gas exploration, extraction and production, and that after 31 December 2025 NatWest would not renew, refinance or extend existing financing for oil and gas exploration, extraction and production. That is less than 2 years away. Oil and gas and its derivative industries are some of the UK’s biggest and most important industries. NatWest is one of the UK’s biggest banks and capital providers. What on earth was Rose thinking?

The UK still relies heavily on oil and gas. Most of our cars run on petrol or diesel, as do our petrochemical industries. Our farmers rely on diesel to operate their machinery, and also on hydrocarbons which are key ingredients in fertilisers and pesticides. Diesel powers all goods transport, whether by ship or by road. Pharmaceutical ingredients rely on hydrocarbons, as does the production of steel and concrete for buildings, and the manufacture of anything made of plastic. Most importantly, about 40% of UK electricity comes from gas-fired power stations. Yet the former CEO of NatWest plans to stop funding this entire critical industry!

NatWest is in fact RBS rebranded. RBS was the UK’s largest bank before it overextended itself in 2007/8, collapsed, and was bailed out by UK taxpayers. The government, which has been slowly reducing the amount of shares it owns in NatWest from 82% at the peak, announced in April this year that its holding was down to 42%. So, Rose is running her anti-industry, anti-growth, and anti-energy campaign using your money. Think about that.

As Keir Starmer recently discovered, many oil and gas workers will not support Labour if it threatens to close down their industry. Many oil and gas industry employees are likely to bank with RBS/Nat West, because both the bank and the industry are largely based in Scotland. Why did Rose think it more important to endear herself to the global wokerati  than look after the interests of her customers, their employers, NatWest’s shareholders and the well-being of the British economy?

All of us rely on electricity produced using gas. Whenever the wind drops or the sun remains behind a cloud or at night, the UK relies on gas-fired electricity to make up the shortfall in renewable production. Nuclear is a steady generator of electricity, but nuclear power stations can’t be quickly ramped up and down to make up for a decrease or increase in wind, unlike gas.

Look at any chart of UK electricity production and nuclear is relatively flat, providing about 15% of UK power. Gas and wind power are counter cyclical: gas steps up whenever the wind drops. Last year gas provided just under 40% of UK power while wind provided just under 30%. Solar in the UK is a joke, and last year, despite the ‘heatwave’, it provided less than 5% of UK electricity. A solar panel in the UK is unlikely to save even the CO2 emissions produced in its manufacture, let alone the planet.

Rose’s short-sightedness makes me wonder if she has any idea how much banks rely on electricity to function. Perhaps bank clerks at Coutts still use quills, parchment and mental arithmetic to calculate compound interest. But that is certainly not the case at NatWest. Like all modern banks, NatWest consumes massive amounts of electricity to power the computers that keep tabs on their clients’ accounts, their loan book, their credit exposure, their bond portfolio, their dealing room activity and to calculate their interest rate payments, credit requirements, foreign exchange requirements, and even their own revenue and expense accounts. And there is also the electricity used to keep the lights on in their offices, run the lifts and provide any heating or air conditioning. Even their multi-storey head office building could not have been built without gas to make the cement.

How long would any major modern bank last without electricity? What would happen to NatWest’s business if its electricity provider stopped supplying it with electricity whenever gas-fired generators had to be used because the wind dropped? If NatWest can close an account that ‘doesn’t align with our purpose and values’, then why don’t energy companies follow suit and stop providing electricity to the bank customers who don’t share their purpose and values? If Dame Alison Rose is so keen on Net Zero – can someone please turn off her gas and her electricity. Even today, at 2pm on 26th July in the UK: 35% of UK electricity is coming from gas and coal but only 31% from wind and solar, with nuclear, biomass and France making up the rest.

Unfortunately Rose is not alone. Many insurance companies have also adopted damaging ESG/Net Zero anti-industry policies as members of the UN’s Net Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA). The companies pledged to remove all greenhouse gas emissions from their insurance and reinsurance underwriting portfolios. This collusion falls foul of US laws designed to encourage competition. When members of the US House of Representatives threatened the insurance companies with an anti-trust lawsuit, ten of the world’s largest insurance companies dropped out of NZIA. Although some have subsequently published their ‘own’ surprisingly similar Net Zero plans.

Not only does the UN’s NZIA membership demand that insurance companies cut their own emissions by reducing their office energy consumption and business travel, but that insurance companies should transition their investment portfolios to net-zero GHG emission by 2050. Insurance firms run some of the world’s largest investment funds – so if banks won’t lend to oil and gas companies and insurance funds won’t invest in them, the future of UK oil and gas and related industries looks grim indeed.

NZIA also demands that insurance companies set their underwriting criteria to impact the most GHG intensive activities. (i.e. – don’t insure oil and gas projects or platforms) and use ‘claims management to promote a net-zero transition’. Does this mean that ICE vehicles will have more trouble claiming on their insurance policies?

Oil platforms and mining companies will soon be uninsurable, unlike ‘low-emission’ white-collar jobs (despite the amount of electricity offices require). It gets even more ludicrous: NZIA members must also promote human rights, ‘including the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)’. Does this include the human right to cheap reliable electricity that has lifted millions of people out of poverty? Probably not.

Oh, and for good measure NZIA demands that insurance companies should also pledge to advocate for and engage in governmental policies for a science-based and socially just transition of economic sectors to net zero (author’s emphasis). One suspects this means ‘THE’ science as we saw with Covid rather than real science, because the forced transition to Net-Zero is a belief never questioned by NZIA. They probably also believe that NatWest’s treatment of Nigel Farage is socially just if not actually legal.

But the real enablers of this catastrophe are oil and gas company executives who have accepted without a murmur this outrageous discrimination from banks and insurance companies with politically motivated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion rules. Why don’t EDI regulations force banks to include oil and gas companies in their lending criteria? Where are the protests? Even eco-warriors should complain about this discrimination against gas producers:  windfarms are useless without gas fired backup electricity. No society will continue to use wind turbines if they start experiencing blackouts whenever the wind drops. They will either switch to an all-nuclear system, or the population will follow South Africa’s example and revert to individual diesel generators to supply their businesses and homes with electricity.

We do indeed get the politicians, and the regulations, and the bank CEOs that we deserve. If we don’t stand up to banks and insurance companies using Anti Money Laundering policies to close down individual and small business accounts or Environment Social Governance policies to close down one of our most vital industries, then we deserve to live cold, hungry, impoverished lives in hovels like 16th century peasants.

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About the author

Catherine McBride