Rishi Sunak has weighed into the growing row over Nigel Farage allegedly having his bank account closed because of his political views, saying such a thing “wouldn’t be right”.

The Prime Minister was speaking after two former Tory ministers raised the case of the former UKIP leader and the private bank Coutts at PMQs.

Mr Farage has warned of a slide into a “Chinese-style social credit system” if  UKbanks are allowed to deny people services because of their beliefs.

Coutts, the bank used by the Royal family, is part of NatWest Group plc, which is 39 per cent owned by the taxpayer following the government bailout of the company in 2008.

Mr Farage used data protection law to obtain a 36-page dossier the bank compiled on him for its “reputational risk committee” last November, which led to his account being shut.

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Despite Mr Farage having enough money for Coutts, which requires customers to borrow or invest at least £1million or save £3m, the bank felt his views did “not align with our values”.

The dossier cited his links to US president Donald Trump and tennis champ Novak Djokovic and concerns that Mr Farage was “xenophobic and racist”.

The committee minutes said Mr Farage, a customer for a decade, was no longer deemed “compatible with Coutts given his publicly-stated views that were at odds with our position as an inclusive organisation”.

At PMQs, former Brexit Secretary David Davis said the bank’s decision was “thinly veiled political discrimination” and called it a “vindictive, irresponsible and undemocratic action”.

He accused Coutts of lying about the “commercial viability” of Mr Farage’s account in anonymous briefings to the BBC and said the disclosure of private information “ought to jeopardise its banking licence”.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg also asked for an inquiry into the case.

Mr Sunak said: “It wouldn’t be right if financial services were being denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech.

“Our new Financial Services and Markets Act puts in place new measures to ensure that politically exposed persons are being treated in an appropriate and proportionate manner.

“Having consulted on the payment services regulations, we are in the process of cracking down on this practice by tightening the rules around account closures.

“But, in the meantime, any individual can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which has the power to direct a bank to reopen their account.”

Mr Farage said: “I think that the march of woke corporatism needs to be checked and if it is not then we will finish up with a Chinese-style social credit system.

“Only those with acceptable views will be able to participate fully in society. 

“I am effectively de-banked. How do I pay my gas bill? What have I done wrong? I haven’t broken the law. 

“I happen to have an opinion on issues that is more popular outside the M25 than it is in inner London postcodes.”

The Herald:

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “I think it is absolutely disgraceful.

“I don’t have to agree with everything Nigel Farage says to recognise that free speech is a very important part of our domestic life.

“People shouldn’t have their bank accounts closed because of their political or any other view. And banks shouldn’t be refusing to open accounts on that basis as well.

“Yet there is a very long-running problem within this country where banks are misapplying the guidance and rules. And not just closing accounts, but refusing to open them in the first place, and that should not be the case.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman called the situation a “scandal”, tweeting: “NatWest and other corporates who have naively adopted this politically biased dogma need a major rethink.”

The Prime Minister’s press secretary said it would be “incredibly concerning” if an individual’s bank account was closed because of their political views.

“If the reports that we have seen today are true about the reasons for Nigel Farage and his bank account being closed down, that is obviously incredibly concerning and wrong. No-one should be barred from bank services for their political views,” she said.

The PM’s official spokesman said it would be “unacceptable if financial services were being denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech”.

Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman said not enough information was known to give a view.

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He told reporters: “I think it would be fair to say we just don’t know enough information at this stage. Clearly, the position as had been initially reported is now contested and so therefore it wouldn’t be appropriate to speculate on what has or hasn’t happened.”

A Coutts spokeswoman said: “Our ability to respond is restricted by our obligations of client confidentiality. Decisions to close accounts are not taken lightly and take into account a number of factors including commercial viability, reputational considerations, and legal and regulatory requirements.

"As the client has previously confirmed, alternative banking arrangements have been offered within the wider group.”