IT’S hard to feel sympathy for Nigel Farage. It’s easy to assume that if he’s had the smirk wiped off his face, someone must have done something right.

When he declares that “life in the United Kingdom is now becoming completely unliveable because of the levels of prejudice against me”, a reasonable first response is “boo hoo”.

It’s also worth remembering that he has a TV show to promote. But set aside those reactions to the news that the former Ukip leader claims to have had his bank accounts closed without explanation, and that seven other UK banks won’t touch him with a barge pole.

“If they can do it to me, they can do it to you too,” he insists, while suggesting that a significant contributing factor may have been Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant standing up in Parliament and saying that Farage had been paid more than £500,000 from the Russian state in 2018 alone – a claim Farage strongly rejects, insisting the figure quoted was his firm’s total income for the year and did not include a penny from the state broadcaster Russia Today.

Never say never, but I think it’s quite unlikely that an MP will ever use parliamentary privilege to – erroneously or otherwise – accuse me or you of taking half a million pounds from Russia.

So let’s also leave that hyperbole aside too and consider other reasons why we should perhaps be concerned about Farage’s plight, which he says risks making life so difficult that it renders him a “non-person”.

“To my knowledge, I don’t think anybody has been treated like me in the world of politics,” he declared, but others have been quick to come forward with stories about banking problems affecting not just politicians but their relatives too.

Daily Mail journalist Dominic Lawson wrote about the difficulty he faced when trying to open a bank account for his daughter because of her connection to his father Nigel Lawson, the former Tory chancellor, who at that point was sitting in the House of Lords.

To clarify, the banks don’t have a blanket prejudice against right-wing men named Nigel.

Lawson senior had been designated a “politically exposed person”, the term used to refer to those in public positions who (along with their relatives) might be considered a higher-than-average risk for involvement in corruption or money laundering.

Dominic Lawson did eventually manage to open an account for his daughter, after “exhaustive form-filling” and “much toing and froing”.

He says that MP Charles Walker, who has campaigned for sitting UK politicians to be “de-risked”, knows of 10 current MPs who have had their bank accounts closed – a high enough number, surely, to give pause to anyone weighing up the pros and cons of a political career.

Farage was not the only divisive character to raise banking-related concerns last week.

Stuart Campbell, the Wings Over Scotland blogger, tweeted in characteristically sweary fashion that his personal current and savings accounts had been unexpectedly closed and that he only learned this when his card was declined at a supermarket.

Unlike Farage, he was able to swiftly open a new account with a different bank, but was left puzzling over why he had been declared persona non grata by his previous bank and why it had made little or no effort to communicate with him about this important decision.

“Was it political?” he tweeted. “Was it to do with Wings’ very public stance on gender, after the fiasco of PayPal pulling their services from the Free Speech Union and other similar incidents from woke financial service providers?”

Days later it was reported that Yorkshire Building Society had closed the account of a church leader after he responded to a request for feedback by questioning how the institution was marking Pride Month.

Rev Richard Fothergill says he wrote “a couple of paragraphs” questioning whether the efforts were “a waste of energies” and raising “serious ethical problems with the transsexual agenda ... impacting children”, adding a link to a news report about drag queen story hours.

Fothergill was surprised to later receive a letter telling him that his relationship with the bank had “irrevocably broken down” and his account was to be closed.

On being contacted by The Times, the building society insisted it “never close[s] savings accounts based on different opinions regarding beliefs or feedback provided by our customers” and does so only if a customer “is rude, abusive, violent or discriminates in any way”.

I’m sure we can all agree that bank staff should not have to tolerate rude, abusive or violent customers, but that final part seems open to broad interpretation.

Fothergill sent his views directly to his building society, so it’s pretty clear this is what triggered the account closure, but might other institutions be casting a wider net to find examples of their customers behaving in what they consider to be a discriminatory way? Might rude or abusive words posted on Twitter be grounds for being ditched as a customer?

Regardless of your personal feelings about Farage, Campbell or Fothergill, or the issues on which they either campaign or just spout forth, it would be good to have answers to those questions.