Labour Demands Prime Minister Apologise to Commonwealth

Labour Party Conference 2017- Day Two
Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Prime Minister must apologise to former colonies and Commonwealth nations for Britain’s “historic wrongs”, Labour’s Emily Thornberry claimed ahead of Monday’s Commonwealth summit.

The shadow foreign minister argued that now would be the “perfect time” for the UK to repent for its past.

Mrs. Thornberry, a key ally of Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, claimed that David Cameron’s 2006 apology to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela for the UK not imposing sanctions on the apartheid government “did not go far enough”.

The left-winger also echoed the demands of 33 Commonwealth nations, made last year, for Britain to be referred to the International Court of Justice over the “historic wrong” done to the Chagos islanders.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the UK moved residents of the islands so the territory could be turned into U.S. airbase Diego Garcia.

Writing in House Magazine, she said Mrs. May should apologise “not just for the wrong done to the Chagos islanders, but for the actions of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s”.

Adding: “I believe Theresa May and the Conservative government in Britain also owes an apology to the Commonwealth as a whole – and indeed Her Majesty the Queen – for ignoring the efforts of every other member thirty years ago to bring apartheid to an end.

“This week would be an appropriate moment to correct that historic mistake, and would send a wider signal to our Commonwealth cousins that we in the UK truly recognise that the days are gone when our union was described – in colonial terms – as the ‘British Commonwealth’.”

“This great institution does not exist for the benefit of Britain, and even less simply to make up for the post-Brexit hole in our trading balance sheet.

“It exists for the collective benefit of all its members, and the wider benefit of the world.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.