‘His Brexit is responsible for thousands of British citizens living abroad losing their UK bank accounts. Funny old world…’
Since 2020, many British expats living in EU countries have been forced to struggle with their personal finances, due to Brexit-induced UK bank closures.
Were the bank closures headline news? And did Nigel Farage, who has been on the rampage about Coutts’ closure of his bank apparently for his political views for weeks now, complain?
In November 2020, research by MoneySavingExpert.com found that, as a result of Brexit, at least ten banks, building societies and credit card companies decided to close accounts held by British expats living in European countries. The Co-op Bank and Nationwide were found to be among the banks to announce closures.
The money experts explained how the UK banks were closing the accounts because of ‘passporting’ arrangements. Passporting is when banks are allowed to provide services to customers in other states in the EEA without having to get direct authorisation in those states. As Brexit was set to change ‘passporting’ rules, as from January 1, 2021, each UK bank would need to have separate authorisation in every EEA country it wants to operate in – and different countries would have their own laws and regulations which could affect banks’ ability to trade there.
As a result, some banks decided to close accounts in countries where they no longer wish to operate. Steve Nowottny, news and investigations editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, explained how as of the end of the Brexit transition period nears, banks were increasingly deciding that they “must simply close accounts held by those living overseas.”
“Those who live abroad and have a UK bank account often keep it for a very specific reason, such as receiving regular income, so this is undoubtedly a frustrating situation for many of those who are affected,” he said.
Nowottny said the financial website had heard from a number of readers who were scrambling to work out what to do after being told their accounts were being closed.
While the closures and the struggle it caused for many British expats living in the EU was reported on at the time, it was hardly treated with the same front-page importance that the Nigel Farage’s bank closure debacle has received in recent weeks.
Farage has accused Coutts of “lying” about the real reason after reports surfaced last month he had fallen below the financial threshold for an account. He claims that a 40-page dossier he obtained from the bank proves that the closure was due to his political beliefs not aligning with the bank’s.
Did the former MEP make such noise when British expats could no longer access their UK bank account due to Brexit red tape?
The question was raised on Twitter this week, amid the ‘woke’ bank closure uproar peddled by Farage and much of the right-wing media.
Pointing to MoneySavingExpert’s research, writer and journalist Otto English asked: “Did Nigel Farage complain then?”
The same query was made by a Portugal’s British in Europe representative, who said:
“Yes, tens of thousands of UK nationals, because of Brexit, had their bank accounts closed, credit card accounts removed, with demands of immediate payments for the full amounts borrowed.
“It was horrendous.
“It’s one bank account after all the misery he has caused.”
Another bemused Twitter user wrote:
“Since we’re talking bout #banking and #Farage… His Brexit is responsible for thousands of British citizens living abroad losing their UK bank accounts. Funny old world…”
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
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