Blair to make a limited apology for slavery

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TONY BLAIR is to express his “deep sorrow” for Britain’s role in the slave trade tomorrow, but his carefully worded comments will fall short of the full apology demanded by campaigners.
In a characteristic piece of positioning, the prime minister will issue a statement to the black community newspaper New Nation, atoning for the country’s involvement in the trade nearly 200 years ago.

But it will disappoint those who wanted the prime minister to make an apology in a parliamentary statement, or for the Queen to issue one.

“It is hard to believe what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time,” Blair will say.

“I believe the bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was — how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition — but also to express our deep sorrow that it ever could have happened and rejoice at the better times we live in today.” ...

Blair has been under pressure to make a gesture in the run-up to the bicentenary in March of the Slave Trade Act that abolished slavery in the British Empire. Up to 28m Africans were sent to the Americas and sold into slavery between 1450 and the early 19th century. Britain transported more than 300,000 a year in shackles on disease-ridden boats.

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