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Culture wars

Thomas Coutts must be spinning in his grave

Natwest CEO Alison Rose. Hollie Adams/Getty

When Alison Rose was appointed the first female boss of NatWest (and with it Coutts), says Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph, she announced that “tackling climate change would be a central pillar” of her strategy. Eh? Did she think she’d “assumed control of Extinction Rebellion” rather than a leading capitalist institution? But, true to her ideological posturing, she swiftly ended new loans for oil extraction – a “ruinous piece of virtue signalling” that means we now pay more than £40bn a year to import oil and gas from our North Sea neighbours. And this week, she’s been caught up in another ideological scandal, issuing Nigel Farage a grovelling apology over the closing of his Coutts account.

A friend who used to be high up at the exclusive private bank tells me the furore was “depressingly inevitable”, adding: “the forces of woke have wrought havoc there”. It seems he’s right. Despite bankers admitting in a 40-page dossier that the Ukip leader was a “commercially viable customer”, they decided there was “something a bit whiffy about him”, because some sensitive types perceive him as “xenophobic” and possibly a “grifter”. Of course, there’s no such reluctance over other “unsavoury clients”: Chinese tycoons who put Uyghyrs in concentration camps, say, or Iranian potentates who authorise the “mass hanging of gay people”. But the face of Brexit – “Ugh, let’s show him the door!” The bank’s founder Thomas Coutts – who went to Paris at the height of the French Revolution to help “beleaguered aristocrats” – “must be spinning in his grave”. Would he have considered Farage’s money as good as the next man’s? “You can bank on it.”