Disgraced UK minister Matt Hancock rebrands as crypto bro
Former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock isn’t phased by cryptocurrency’s $2 trillion dip and has repeated his ambitions for the country to lead the way in the adoption of digital assets. This despite saying he doesn’t own any crypto himself.
In an interview with UKTN, the Conservative MP for West Suffolk likened the crashing crypto market to the Dotcom bubble — when the NASDAQ tumbled over 75% after speculation in new tech stocks inflated the market.
“The underlying technology is so powerful… Just because the Dotcom bubble crashed in 2001, we didn’t discredit the internet as a technology,” Hancock said (via UKTN).
“No country can stop this revolution; we can only choose whether it happens on our shores or happens to us from elsewhere,” he added reiterating his desire for the UK to welcome crypto firms with open arms.
Indeed, many crypto exchanges like BitMex and Binance choose to base their operations ‘offshore’ in jurisdictions where lax finance regulation allows crypto firms to get going without pesky regulatory oversight.
Hancock slams UK regulator’s patronizing approach
Hancock says it’s largely down to regulators to make the British Isles more attractive to crypto companies. He took aim at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) once more suggesting that the current regulatory approach was patronizing to British investors.
Read more: Terra implosion could shape UK stablecoin regulations
“The job of the regulators is to make sure there is high-quality information and that the market functions effectively. What remit does the state have to tell them what they can and can’t invest in? I think that’s incredibly patronizing,” he said.
While Hancock doesn’t mention the regulator by name in the interview with UKTN, earlier this year he made his feelings about the FCA’s approach to crypto known. In April, at a Crypto Club Global dinner, Hancock told members the regulator was getting it wrong and was unwelcoming to crypto companies.
Of course, the FCA can’t stop a Brit from buying Bitcoin or any other crypto but it won’t be able to offer the same protections that UK investors can expect when buying a share or purchasing a traditional financial product.
This year the UK government said it had plans to recognize stablecoins as a form of payment and Hancock suggests TerraUSD’s recent death drop is par for the course. However, the FCA said it would take into account the crash as it ponders crypto regulations.
“The crash of Luna and the pressure on other stablecoins serves as a reminder that cryptocurrencies are still currencies and the age-old rules of finance still apply,” Hancock said.
Hancock is reinventing himself with pro-crypto policy
It appears that Hancock is looking to rebrand himself with a new look and non-stop appearances to shill the virtues of crypto. UKTN noted that his dressed-down jeans and t-shirt were reminiscent of the late Apple chief exec Steve Jobs.
Throughout the pandemic, Hancock lead the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care until he was forced to resign after images of an extra-marital, lockdown rule-flouting tryst with an aide were released to the press. As a result, he stepped down from his top government job and ended his 15-year marriage.
In any case, with no skin in the crypto game, one has to wonder what Hancock’s pro-crypto campaigning says about his future political ambitions while the current chancellor’s approval ratings continue to tumble.
Despite his faltering public support, Rishi Sunak declared plans for wider crypto adoption in the UK in April. This included recognizing stablecoins as a form of payment and an NFT produced by the Royal Mint.
Read more: Here are some of Boris Johnson’s crypto-loving Conservative MPs
It’s worth noting that in the month prior to the Treasury’s announcement, the Conservative party accepted a £500,000 ($612,000) donation from crypto big-boy and Brexit backer Christopher Harborne. Sunak’s opposite number, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, said the news was “a shocking revelation,” (via Financial News).
Protos contacted HM Treasury for clarity on Sunak’s crypto interests however, the department declined to say whether Sunak’s blind trust included any cryptocurrency investments.
“The Chancellor provided a full list of all relevant interests when he first became a Minister in 2018, as required by the Ministerial Code.”
The Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests has confirmed that they are completely satisfied with the steps the Chancellor has taken to meet the requirements of the Code,” a spokesperson said.
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