UK owes Caribbean nations more than £200bn in reparations for slavery, Cambridge don claims

20 May 2024, 10:38

Cambridge academic claims Britain owes £205bn in reparations
Cambridge academic claims Britain owes £205bn in reparations. Picture: alamy

By StephenRigley

Britain owes Caribbean nations £205 billion in slavery reparations, a leading academic has claimed.

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Rev Dr Michael Banner, the Dean of Trinity College Cambridge, said the UK was once “the leading slavery nation in the world”, and that the modern-day descendants of slaves deserved compensation.

In a new book, Britain’s Slavery Debt, the controversial theologian and clergyman said he had calculated that Britain owes £205 billion.

He based this figure on the compensation claims made by slave owners when the trade was abolished.

The UK government has always rejected the case for reparations.

Dr Michael Banner believes Britain should pay reparations for slavery
Dr Michael Banner believes Britain should pay reparations for slavery. Picture: alamy

Read More: Calls for Church of England to raise £1bn to make amends for historic links to slavery labelled 'anti-Christian'

Read More: UK 'owes £20tn' for slavery, report claims, as judge says Rishi Sunak 'cannot ignore calls' for payments

Dr Banner said the Scottish Government should “show leadership” and begin repaying its £20.5 billion share.

He told the Herald on Sunday: "It's well-known Scots played an outsized part in growing and sustaining the British empire, and Glasgow was in particular closely tied up with Caribbean trade.

"Scotland now has an opportunity to show leadership once again on the side of right, by recognising the compelling case for making reparations to the nations and people of the Caribbean.

"The British Government has consistently failed to face up to this responsibility. Scotland can show the way."

The theologian based the amount he believes the UK should pay back on more than £40million of compensation slave owners said they were due when the trade was first abolished, even though they received half of that at £20million.

Caricom, an organisation that represents 20 Caribbean states, has issued a 10-point plan for “reparatory justice”.

A UN judge, Patrick Robertson, claimed last year that the UK is likely to owe more than £18 trillion in reparations for its role in slavery involvement in 14 countries.

Institutions such as the Church of England, the University of Glasgow, as well as some prominent British families, have agreed to set up funds to pay slavery reparations.

Scottish Tory MSP Stephen Kerr said Dr Banner's reasoning "may have its place in the ivory towers of Russell Group universities' but did not 'speak to the real-world challenges we are facing."

He added: "People in Scotland have other pressing concerns. We need to deal with the real priorities of Scots and not be concerned with yet more academic virtue-signalling."

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