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Brexit is a nail in the high-street bank’s coffin

Branch closures in the name of digitalization, on top of wider woes in the retail sector, could exacerbate the kind of community breakdown that led to Brexit.


Opening a letter from Santander recently, for a moment I get a sense of the kind of popular outrage directed against London and its financial industry – even though the latter benefits me more than most.

My local bank branch, it seems, is closing.

I am subject to one of about 140 UK branch closures, about a fifth of the network, that Santander announced in January.

I picture the kind of boarded-up shopfront that is becoming all too familiar in the British high street. It’s a sad sight that will become more normal, I reflect, as the UK’s toxic political environment weighs more heavily on the economy and business investment: even if we avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

The rage soon switches back to our politicians.

The next news I see is that shares are plummeting in Metro Bank. This is the challenger whose strategy is supposed to be a rare source of hope for those who want branches to remain a cornerstone of banks’ consumer businesses.

Metro’s sell-off is down to an accounting error over risks in its loan book, but also because of stubbornly low interest margins: made worse by a mortgage market now suffering from Brexit.