Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dismissed a call for the government to apologise and pay reparations for the UK’s historic role in slavery.
Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy asked if he would make a “full and meaningful apology” and “commit to reparatory justice”. The PM said “no”, adding “trying to unpick our history is not the right way forward”. The UK government has never formally apologised for its role in the trade. The British government and the monarchy were prominent participants in the trade, alongside other European nations. (BBC)
It is no surprise that Britain won’t apologise for its significant role in scaling up the transatlantic slave trade. Britain’s Industrial Revolution is built on slave labour in the colonies. Together with Portugal it is responsible for 70% of all transported Africans. More than 3 million by Britain alone, with many hundreds of thousands perishing on the way.
Many of the horrendous crimes committed by the British were hidden from the ordinary British public at home, just as their atrocities in India were. As news about their crimes leaked into the public consciousness, a movement was started to end slavery. Britain resisted it fiercely, then finally acquiesced once the Industrial Revolution had marked the end of profitability for slave plantations. Once America won its independence from Britain, only then did it start to make moves to free slaves and ban the slave trade; harming the American economy in so doing. With more and more slaves on Caribbean plantations rising up in rebellion, the cost of keeping them finally became too much. This is what the British today congratulate themselves for: ending the slave trade. Yet it was done for economic reasons alone. No reparations were ever paid to the slaves or their families, only to grotesquely wealthy plantation owners and traders, in compensation for their loss of “property”.
Slavery and indentured Labour very much continued thriving in British colonised India. It has been estimated that British colonialism directly led to over 100 million deaths between 1880 and 1920. British policy has never had a humanitarian bone in its twisted and deformed body.
British colonialism continued long after its troops left India and Africa, and it continues until this very day. Far from taking a moral stance against racism and apartheid, both of which are the legacy of British colonialism and akin to modern slavery, Britain has proudly stood alongside South African, Jewish occuaption, Chinese, American and now Indian apartheid.
To seriously allow the history books to be opened and ledgers examined to calculate the cost of reparations would expose millions of skeletons in closets that the British wish to remain long forgotten. Not to mention that it would probably bankrupt Britain a hundred times over.
Media Representative of Hizb ut Tahrir in Britain