NatWest could have avoided a 3 per cent drop in its share and the loss of its CEO if Coutts boss Peter Flavel had taken responsibility for debanking him, Nigel Farage has suggested as he called Mr Flavel’s position “unsustainable”.
The former Brexit Party leader told The Independent he wrote to Mr Flavel three times after hearing his Coutts account would be closed, but was “not given the courtesy of a response”.
It came as a senior Tory MP called for Dame Alison Rose to have any payout after quitting the bank scrapped over her “whopping great mistake”.
The shock departure of Dame Alison wiped 3.6 per cent from NatWest’s share price, making it the FTSE 100’s biggest loser. The drop knocked more than £800m from the bank’s value, hitting the value of shares owned by the taxpayer by more than £320m.
Mr Farage said he warned Mr Flavel he planned to “go public” with allegations the NatWest-owned lender was shutting his account due to his political views.
See our live coverage on the ongoing row here.
But his warning, which he said would have avoided the row which led to NatWest boss Dame Alison Rose being ousted, was ignored. Mr Farage said “none of it”, from Dame Alison’s departure to the £650m hit to NatWest’s value, needed to happen.
“He is totally incompetent, does he care? Has he been in hiding?” Mr Farage said.
He added: “These people have big, highly paid jobs, and with that comes responsibility.
“I warned them and I warned him I would go public.”
Meanwhile former Brexit secretary David Davis said Dame Alison should not get a payoff after quitting the bank. He told GB News: “This is a really serious, deliberate mistake, and you should not get payoffs.
“I don’t approve of the modern payoff culture where your payoff is in proportion to your salary.
“Your payoff should be in proportion to the size of the mistake, and this is a whopping great mistake.”
Dame Alison’s shock exit saw NatWest shares tumble 3 per cent on Wednesday morning, wiping around £650m from the bank’s value.
It has thrown the taxpayer-backed lender into turmoil, having appointed the head of its commercial and institutional arm Paul Thwaite as interim CEO.
And Mr Farage said Mr Flavel has to follow Dame Alison out the door, adding: “His position is completely unsustainable at every level.”
Dame Alison was forced to quit as chief executive of NatWest in the early hours on Wednesday, less than a day after the bank’s board stressed it had “full confidence” in her as boss.
She left after revealing she was the source for a controversial BBC story about Nigel Farage’s bank account.
Dame Alison apologised to the former Ukip leader and her colleagues, saying she had “made a serious error of judgement” in discussing his affairs. But the apology was not enough for Mr Farage, who demanded that she and other bosses “should all go”.
Mr Farage doubled down on Wednesday, saying Dame Alison was “unfit” to stay in her job and any board member who endorsed her must go.
After resigning, Dame Alison was on Wednesday also forced out of her roles on two government advisory boards.
Energy secretary Grant Shapps asked her to quit the department’’s energy efficiency task force, which she joined in February.
And No10 confirmed she had stood down from the prime minister’s business council, which she joined last week.
Her resignation from the bank, which is 39 per cent owned by the government, was welcomed by Rishi Sunak and City minister Andrew Griffith.
A No 10 source said the Prime Minister “was concerned about the unfolding situation. Alison Rose has done the right thing in resigning”.
The source said: “Everyone would expect people in public life – whether that’s in a business leadership role or otherwise – to act responsibly and with integrity.”
And Mr Griffith said “it is right” Dame Alison had quit and the crisis “would never have happened” if NatWest had not decided to “withdraw a bank account due to someone’s lawful political views”.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said NatWest “got this one wrong” and Nigel Farage should not have had his account closed.
Sir Keir said: “I certainly don’t think anybody should be refused banking services because of their political views, whoever they are.”
“I don’t know the extent of this, but that certainly shouldn’t be the case,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.