Prime Minister faces call to publicly apologize for Britain’s role in slavery as opposition MPs threaten boycott if he fails to mention compensation
The Prime Minister was publicly pressed on whether Britain will pay compensation to Caribbean countries for its role in the slave trade by Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s Prime Minister.
Campaigners accused the UK of racism for compensating slaver owners but not those enslaved when the practice was abolished in 1833 and demanded Mr Cameron issue a public apology.
At least one Jamaican MP has threatened to turn his back when the Prime Minister addresses the Jamaican Parliament if he fails to discuss reparations.
It comes with Mr Cameron on a two-day trip to the Caribbean, becoming the first British leader to visit Jamaica in 14 years before moving on to Grenada.
Ahead of his visit, Number 10 sources insisted Mr Cameron did not believe in paying reparations for slavery, calling it a “centuries old” issue.
Speaking to reporters on the plane to Kingston, the Prime Minister refused to say he would bring up the topic and insisted the trip was focussed on “talking about the future”.
However there is growing pressure from Jamaican campaigners and politicians for Mr Cameron to discuss the issue of reparations when he addresses a special session of the parliament.
Links between Mr Cameron’s family and slavery have resurfaced ahead of the visit. General Sir James Duff, an army officer and Mr Cameron’s first cousin six times removed according to records, was compensated when slavery was abolished.
Sir James, who the Prime Minister is related to on his father’s side, was awarded £4,101 when he forfeited 202 slaves on the Grange Sugar Estate in Jamaica – equal to more than £3m today.
Bert Samuels, a member of the National Commission on Reparations which is demanding billions of pounds be paid in compensation, said Mr Cameron must apologise over slavery during his visit.
“His lineage has been traced and his forefathers were slave-owners and benefited from slavery,” Mr Samuels told Television Jamaica. He added: “Therefore he needs to atone, to apologise personally and on behalf of his country.”