Former MP George Galloway has waded into the row over the cancellation of RT UK’s bank accounts by NatWest, dubbing the move “crude British state propaganda.”
The politician and establishment critic commented that the decision by the bank, of which the British state is a significant shareholder, to close all of the broadcaster’s accounts was “shocking but not surprising.”
“It comes at a time when it’s been obvious in parliament and in the ‘deep state’ that there is a state of anxiety over the influence and popularity of RT in the country,” Galloway told RT International. “This coincides with a simultaneous fall in the credibility of the British state broadcaster the BBC.”
“It’s just crude British state propaganda. They’ve been nervous about RT for some time,” he added.
According to Galloway, the bank is unlikely to give RT any explanation for the decision, since it is largely owned by the British government.
NatWest is part of the Royal Bank Scotland Group, which was saved from bankruptcy by British state injections of up to £37 billion ($64 billion). The recapitalization worked out to the equivalent of £617 ($752) per British taxpayer.
“It flows from the discussions from the last few weeks, about intensifying the sanctions against Syria and Russia,” Galloway said. “It does pose the question: what does Russia do vis-a-vis the BBC, the British state broadcaster. Are there grounds for retaliatory measures against the BBC in Moscow and in Russia? I would have thought yes.”
Downing Street has denied any involvement of the government in the NatWest decision.
“It’s a matter for the bank and it’s for them to decide who they offer services to, based on their own risk appetite,” spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters, as cited by Reuters.