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00:03: A new trend has conservatives in the U.S. and abroad sounding the alarm for the sake of free speech.
00:09: D. Banking.
00:11: Several banks and financial entities have recently refused service to people and organizations
00:16: over their political views, and even some high-profile figures have been caught up in the process.
00:21: In this episode, we talked to Sir Jacob Reese Mog, a member of British Parliament about
00:25: the debanking trend in the UK and abroad in what action he's proposing to address it.
00:31: I'm daily wire editor-in-chief John Bickley with Georgia Howe at Saturday, August 12,
00:35: and this is an extra edition of Morning Wire.
00:41: Joining us now to discuss the debanking debate in the UK is Sir Jacob Ries Mogge, a conservative
00:46: member of Parliament and the host of State of the Nation on GB News. Jacob, welcome.
00:51: just over a week ago the head of net west bank was forced to resign after it was
00:55: revealed that she discussed a private clients banking details with a bbc
00:59: reporter that client was naijel farage most here in the u.s. know him as the
01:04: architect of brexit can you tell us what happened there
01:07: yes naijel farage was told by his bank which was the bank of the late queen
01:13: most distinguished bank in the united kingdom that they were no longer willing
01:17: to give him an account. The head of that West, which owns Coots, then told the BBC that this
01:24: was because he didn't have enough money. But he, very cleverly, this is Nigel, used a data
01:30: access request to find out the real reason. And they'd had a very long committee meeting,
01:34: but it said that they didn't like his political opinions. Actually, one of the things they didn't
01:38: like about him was he was a friend of Donald Trump, so being a friend of a former president of
01:42: the United States means you get debanked in the United Kingdom.
01:46: It's not just Farage.
01:47: Other customers appear to have had their access to banking cut off.
01:51: For example, Reverend Richard Fothergill says he had his bank account shut down after
01:55: he complained about the bank's promotion of LGBT ideology.
01:59: Can you tell us about other instances that you've heard of in this banking trend?
02:03: Well, since Nigel Farage's case, a number of people have come forward and they have been
02:08: charities that have been advocating views that aren't necessarily mainstream views but
02:14: are perfectly legal. And a free speech organisation about a year ago had its facilities taken away
02:21: by PayPal. So that was the first time anyone had heard of it. And that created quite a
02:26: fuss at the time and PayPal relented, but it's gradually emerged that this is more and
02:31: more of a problem. A Nigel Farage has set up a website for people to contact him to say
02:36: I-2 have been debanged and he tells me he is getting hundreds and hundreds of messages.
02:42: After the closing of Faraj's account with Koot's bank and the subsequent scandal, even
02:47: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his concern that people's bank accounts were being
02:51: shut down because of their political opinions.
02:54: We've seen apparent examples of this in the US and Canada as well.
02:58: How common is debanking in Western countries?
03:01: Well, I think it's become more of a problem than I've heard about cases from the United
03:05: States that Chase Manhattan has closed bank accounts down and it seems that if you don't
03:12: hold politically correct views, you can be closed down on the basis of ESG, essentially
03:18: environment, social and governance, which I used to be an investment manager and it was
03:23: coming in whilst I was still active.
03:26: And it's actually a means of not investing to make money,
03:30: but investing to promote your political opinions.
03:34: And this seems to me to fail in its fiduciary duty
03:37: if you are an investor or if you're on the board of an endowment or a charity.
03:42: But it also means that you will say that you won't invest in things like defense.
03:47: And this becomes really serious because one of the other
03:49: things that's been in the British newspapers in last
03:52: days is that defense companies that are supplying arms to Ukraine haven't been getting the investment
03:58: they need because of ESG. So it's this approach of political correctness via ESG to get people
04:05: debanked and stop investment in defense and indeed in oil and gas. So ESG is something that has
04:12: repeatedly come up on this show. Why do these banks believe they should be involved in social
04:18: engineering and not just the business of money. Is it ultimately these ESG scores?
04:23: Well, it's been promoted by the regulators, so the financial conduct authority,
04:27: which is part of the regulatory system for banks has encouraged them to sign up to ESG.
04:33: And it's interesting because ESG started to something relatively informal. It wasn't
04:38: compulsive through it was just a statement that you would bear these things in mind.
04:43: And then it evolved into something that had regulatory approval and became a standard that you were expected to apply.
04:50: And then, if people weren't doing what you said, you took away investment from an off-nantial service facility.
04:55: So I think there is a regular tree as you hear.
04:59: And then, of course, there is a corporate culture
05:02: that seems to be putting the desire to appear to be
05:06: behaving politically correctly ahead of actually making money.
05:10: Though sometimes this is pretty shameless
05:12: because if you look at HSBC, HSBC,
05:17: adopts ESG when it's in the UK, but it's quite happy when it's in China to do business with some pretty unsavory people.
05:26: So we have the overlap here of the government and various industries.
05:30: On a government level, I know you've been heavily involved in this and you're an influential member of Parliament.
05:36: You've introduced legislation to stop this kind of practice.
05:39: Can you explain what you're seeking to do?
05:41: Yes, I've introduced an amendment to a bellgain through Parliament to ensure that
05:47: banks cannot take away banking facilities for people because they disagree with them.
05:51: It's essentially a freedom of speech, amendment to protect consumers.
05:56: That banking is such a heavily regulated industry that it's not like providing ordinary services.
06:04: If you are a baker and you don't like your neighbor, you don't have to sell your neighbor a cake.
06:10: But if you are a bank that is effectively regulated by the state and indeed bailed out by the
06:15: state, then you shouldn't be imposing your political views on your customers. I'm banking
06:21: in the UK, as you probably know, and your listeners probably know, is heavily concentrated.
06:26: It's not as competitive as it is in the United States. There are any small number of banks
06:31: that provide a UK-wide service. And therefore, if you are debanked, it can be very hard to get service from anybody else.
06:40: How does your amendments seek to ensure that underhanded practices aren't used? We've
06:44: seen various sort of discreet forms of redlining in banks, quietly black listing individuals
06:50: or entities. How do you ensure that doesn't happen?
06:53: Well, you start with the assumption that the banks will by and large try to bait a law.
06:58: So you make it clear in law that they are not allowed to take my banking facilities
07:02: for people whose political views they don't like. And then it's the provision of information.
07:07: Initially, Nigel Farage was told by Coots that they were taking away his account and that
07:12: wouldn't say why and they were only giving him 30 days notice. What my legislation would
07:17: do would raise that to 90 days but insist that the banks give a reason. And whilst interesting
07:23: with the net west scandal, the banking scandal is that as soon as the reason became apparent,
07:29: everybody thought it was wrong and therefore the bank has had to change its mind and is now offering
07:34: Nigel Farage's facilities back. So openness is a key way of ensuring that the law would be followed.
07:41: What about other forms of business? Do you see trends in other industries that are also troubling
07:46: that are similar to debanking? Well, I think it is an issue across politics at the moment that
07:52: there are views that you are not encouraged to hold, that people who were skeptical about
07:58: lockdowns have found that those views weren't politically correct, that people who question
08:03: the green agenda have been told that those views aren't suitable. So there are areas and the
08:10: The whole trans debate is extremely toxic and people have to tread very carefully there
08:16: to avoid being de-platformed or having protests against them and so on.
08:21: So this has been a creeping problem and you're so lucky in the United States, I can tell
08:27: you how jealous I am with the First Amendment, that absolute protection you've got a freedom
08:31: of speech, which we don't have in this country and therefore we are constantly trying to bolster
08:38: freedom of speech from my political point of view.
08:42: Yeah, for the sake of our largely American audience here,
08:44: can you discuss the differences between the US and the UK
08:48: where you have no First Amendment protection?
08:50: Do you have to address free speech laws issue by issue?
08:53: How does that play out practically?
08:55: I would love to have a conversation
08:57: about the difference in our two constitutions,
08:59: because I think the US and the UK have the two most beautifully constructed constitutions in the world,
09:05: both of which have a very serious problem,
09:09: which is the merit of image of each other.
09:12: As does not have enough protections,
09:14: and therefore we have no problem to the First Amendment,
09:17: but we have a very strong historic tradition of freedom of speech.
09:21: And we have absolute freedom of speech empowerment.
09:23: So as an MP in parliament, I can say anything,
09:26: even if it's in front of a court or in other ways restricted.
09:30: And that's very important.
09:31: So MPs have a role in this country
09:34: in maintaining freedom of speech, particularly against the mob, if there is a mob mentality
09:41: which there has been on some issues recently.
09:43: In the US you've obviously got the First Amendment protection, but you've got a print
09:50: media at any rate that is pretty much of the liberal turn of mind and therefore what
09:57: they decide people ought to read is constrained.
10:00: And so it's not that there's any legal impediment, it's just how the press operates.
10:04: So you end up with similar difficulties to us, but from a different region.
10:10: In general, in the UK, do you sense that this free speech debate is trending in a more conservative direction or more progressive?
10:17: I think in terms of freedom of speech, that people are realizing how dangerous this is,
10:22: and that in the end, freedom of speech is important, whether you are on the left or the
10:26: right at politics because sometimes it will be your view that's unpopular and you need
10:31: to be able to express it otherwise how do you in elections, how do you convert people
10:36: to that opinion and we're also seeing that the collective opinion can be wrong.
10:42: There's this historically being true that people have believed in all sorts of things
10:46: historically that as human knowledge evolves we discover were mistaken but look at things
10:52: like lockdowns which were thought to be the wisest thing to do. Look at New Zealand and
10:57: all the lockdowns New Zealand had, which then turned out to be a terrible mistake. And
11:02: therefore you've got to be open to freedom of speech to work out where you go next and
11:08: anything that stops freedom of speech deters the development of mankind.
11:12: Yeah. Final question. From your perspective as an MP, is there anything you've found
11:17: to be a crucial takeaway from your experience dealing with these high stakes issues.
11:23: Well, I think that's a crucial point. I think politicians should be braver. But what I've
11:29: discovered in mind, not enormously long political career, but I want to parliament in 2010,
11:34: is that when you hold back, you find that actually you're failing as a politician. You need
11:41: to speak out and express your views, because you will often find that there is a significant
11:46: number of people who share those views. I was in the cabinet when we were agreeing to
11:52: all the lockdowns in England and it was done on a 12 basis. And looking back at it, I
11:58: wish I'd been much more outspoken than I was against them. I was not enthusiastic about
12:04: them. I thought they were in the stake, particularly after the first one. And I think it would have
12:09: been better if I had been even more outspoken than I was. And I was quite clear at least
12:15: within cabinet circles that I thought was a mistake.
12:18: And now once again comes back to the crucial freedom of speech.
12:21: Jacob, thank you so much for talking with us.
12:23: That was Jacob Rees-Mog, and this has been an extra edition of Morning Wire.