Global Britain’s position at the cutting edge of crypto was plunged into doubt this week following the shock resignations of
chancellor NFT enthusiast Rishi Sunak and city minister fintech bro John Glen.
It was only last week that Sunak was extolling crypto’s potential benefits at the British Chambers of Commerce’s annual conference, where according to The Telegraph he told attendees that championing digital assets remains “the right thing for the economy”:
Mr Sunak said the underlying technology supporting crypto assets could be “completely revolutionary”, but admitted “we don’t exactly know” the potential uses. . . .
“There’s lots of opportunity there. We don’t exactly know, in the same way at the beginning of the internet, we didn’t exactly know that 10 years later we’d all be using Uber or whatever it was.
“So I’m excited about that. I want to make sure that this is a place which is welcoming of that innovation.”
Five days (and another sexual misconduct allegation) later, the Conservative party’s crypto dreams look to be in tatters.
Following Sunak and Sajid Javid out the door on Wednesday was city minister John Glen, who said in a speech in April that he wanted the UK to be “the very best place in the world to start and scale crypto-companies”. (The Tories had received a $500,000 donation from crypto investor Christopher Harborne two months earlier.)
But what I mean is the extraordinary, mercurial, underlying technology which makes ‘crypto’ possible… and which we can be pretty sure is going to have profound effects across multiple domains. And that doesn’t happen very often. It’s a challenge… and it’s an opportunity… and today I want to tell you how here in the UK we’re going to respond. Because we want this country to be a global hub.
That message seemed to animate the British Army, which this week appeared to launch a daring but short-lived partnership with a group of NFT developers supposedly impersonating another group of NFT developers calling themselves “The Possessed”.
It’s now unclear when exactly the Treasury’s push into the NFT market will bear fruit. You might remember that during the same speech, Glen confirmed that Sunak had asked the Royal Mint to create its own token “to be issued by the summer”:
This decision shows the the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK. pic.twitter.com/cd0tiailBK
— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) April 4, 2022
When FTAV asked the Royal Mint for a progress update, their press office replied that it was “continuing to develop” its NFT and that “further details” would arrive in due course.
With Sunak and Glen both gone and the army’s Twitter account restored to its former lustre it will likely fall to another governmental crypto doyen to continue fighting the good fight — turtleneck and all.