Steve Baker, a member of a Jacob Rees-Mogg-led faction of Pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, has invested £70,000 in Glint Pay Ltd, an investment company that encourages people to buy gold as a safeguard against any potential negative fallout from a hard Brexit.
According to reports, Baker is actively seeking to outline the advantages of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which would see the United Kingdom leave the European Union without a deal on trade. He quit his ministerial role at the Department for Exiting the European Union in protest against Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘Chequers’ plan, joining prominent Brexiteers Boris Johnson and and David Davis in doing so.
The Prime Minister’s plan will see the United Kingdom leave the single market, customs union, and commons fisheries policy. In addition, the European Court of Justice will no longer have jurisdiction in Britain. The likes of Steve Baker oppose the proposed Facilitated Customs Arrangement, which would see the UK collect tariffs on behalf of the EU.
Glint Pay encourages customers to invest in gold, since the pound is prone to fluctuation in the uncertain economic climate. They suggest that economic growth could stagnate, and the pound could even crash in the coming years as the full effect of Brexit becomes clear. This endorses the view of Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, who claims that a no deal Brexit is likely to “lead to the drop in the value of the pound”.
Mr Baker has disclosed his interest in Glint Pay on June 22 2017, so there is no issue of transparency, but a conflict of interest exists nonetheless. For an MP to campaign for the United Kingdom to crash out of the European Union without any deal on trade of goods and services, or the rights of the millions of EU citizens living in Britain and vice versa is one thing, but to do so whilst simultaneously benefiting from the anxiety towards a no deal outcome is another.
In fairness, a spokesperson for Glint Pay claims that their “success as a business is not predicated on the short-term direction of political and economic events, or any Brexit outcome”. Investing in gold will be favourable to relying on the strength of currency in most circumstances, but clearly the timing of Baker’s investment is not coincidental. A negative Brexit outcome will push more people to invest, regardless of whether Glint Pay bases its success on such events.
Millions of Britons will not be able to hedge their bets in the same way, and will face the full brunt of whatever Brexit has in store. Barney Scholes, a spokesman for the People’s Vote campaign that is pushing for a second referendum on the terms of a Brexit deal, has echoed this criticism of the former Brexit minister’s actions. “Steve Baker seems to treat Brexit as a game to line his own pockets, whilst leaving millions of people across the country to pick up the bill.”
This is another blow to the almost non-existent confidence the public has had with politicians throughout the Brexit process, and could perhaps increase calls for a people’s vote if the current disorganisation persists.