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MPs’ fury at ‘virtue-signalling’ claim from top Cambridge academic that UK owes Caribbean nations £205bn in slavery reparations

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MPs today dismissed a ‘virtue-signalling’ claim that the UK owes Caribbean nations more than £200billion in slavery reparations. 

The estimate has been made by the Dean of Trinity College Cambridge Dr Michael Banner.

Based on the compensation claims made by slave owners when the trade was first abolished in 1833, and adding compound interest, the theologian said the total owed should be £205billion

But the call was derided by MPs as not belonging in the ‘real world’, with a former minister pointing out that the UK had defended Commonwealth states for decades and provided other support.   

The UK owes Caribbean nations £205billion in slavery reparations, a leading Cambridge academic has said (File image of a cartoon on the petition to end the slave trade) 

Scottish Tory MSP Stephen Kerr (pictured) 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'

Scottish Tory MSP Stephen Kerr (pictured) 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’

Despite the UK government rejecting the case for reparations, Dr Banner has urged the Scottish Government to ‘show leadership’ on the issue and start paying back its share of £20.5billion. 

It comes after Tory MPs rebuffered calls from Caribbean nations for Britain to pay reparations over treatment of ‘indentured workers’.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, Dr Banner claimed that Scotland should seize the initiative due to presenting itself as more liberal than the remainder of the UK. 

‘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,’ he said.  

‘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.’ 

He added: ‘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. 

‘We know the people living in the Caribbean now – the people asking for reparations – are the inheritors of those who were wronged,’ he said. 

However, Former Tory Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois, told MailOnline: ‘With D-Day 80 approaching, it’s quite right to acknowledge that we do owe a debt of honour to our Commonwealth allies, who fought bravely alongside us, against Nazi tyranny.

‘But, in return, we have provided everything from defence and international security to hurricane relief, for many decades. This person from Cambridge might perhaps want to remember that?’

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.’

After abolishing slavery, Britain devoted huge resources to eradicating the trade worldwide.  

The organisation that represents 20 Caribbean states –  Caricom – has issued a 10-point plan for ‘reparatory justice’. 

Last year a leading international judge claimed Britain owes almost £19trillion in reparations for its role in the international slave trade, and even that might be an ‘underestimation’. 

Patrick Robinson, who sits in International Criminal Court, claimed that countries behind the centuries of atrocities were ‘obliged to pay’ and accused politicians like Rishi Sunak of burying their heads in the sand.

He spoke after an academic report in June alleged that 31 former slaveholding states – which also include the United States and Spain – owed $100trillion – $131trillion between them.

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