I was drawn for my seventh PMQ so far in this Parliament. I called on Rishi Sunak to offer a formal government apology for Britain’s role in slavery and colonialism. He flat out refused, saying “no…trying to unpick our history is not the right way forwards”. But the racism and inequality that persists in the present has its roots in our colonial past. I firmly believe that the only way we can move forwards as a society is through a full and honest reckoning with the history that created the country, and indeed the world we live in today. The United Kingdom has never officially apologised for the suffering inflicted on people through the violence of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial rule. When we talk about reparations, people often try to reduce the conversation to a question of payments and large sums of money. But no quantity of money could put these evils right. As I set out in my maiden speech, I the Government can start with some simple things that cost the taxpayer nothing: like returning looted artefacts residing in British museums, cancelling debts that have been repaid over and over, and yes, apologising.
Asking Rishi Sunak for a Government Apology for the UK’s role in Slavery and Colonialism
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