Behind the headlines
Should Britain pay reparations?
A petition from the Jamaican government last year asked for up to £7bn. It was dismissed by the British High Commission on the grounds that those directly harmed by slavery are no longer alive. Some activists have demanded an equivalent to the £20m – £17bn in today’s money – with which Britain compensated slaveowners when it outlawed the practice throughout the Empire in 1833. It’s certainly a “cost-free” exercise for those asking for the cash, says Douglas Murray in The Times: even if the former colonialists don’t pay, the question distracts from domestic corruption and misgovernance. Reparations are “one of the great shakedown attempts of our time”.