Calls for Tory MP to repay 'money soaked in blood' from ancestor's Caribbean slave plantations

WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 15: Richard Drax, Conservative MP for South Dorset, on November 15, 2019 in Weymouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Labour MPs have backed calls from campaigners for a Tory MP to repay the money his family made from slave plantations in the Caribbean.

Ancestors of South Dorset MP Richard Drax ran plantations in Jamaica and Barbados between 1640 and 1836, according to the Sunday Mirror.

Drax Hall's sugar plantation in Saint George, Barbados, had a workforce of around 327 enslaved people for nearly 200 years.

The Tory MP still owns the establishment, which is now run as a farm, having inherited it from his father in 2017.

WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: MP for North East Somerset, Jacob Rees-Mogg (R) visits Boho Gelato ice cream parlour with Richard Drax MP at the harbourside on August 18, 2020 in Weymouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Now CARICOM, a conglomerate of Caribbean nations, has called on Drax to pay reparations to the people of Barbados and Jamaica.

They are asking for a sum of £4.7 million, the equivalent value of the estate when he inherited it, and have gained the support of some Labour MPs in the UK.

Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: "So Tory MP Richard Drax family made huge fortune from slavery. Money soaked in blood.

"More than 30,000 slaves died on the Drax plantations in Barbados and Jamaica over 200 years #BlackLivesMatter."

While fellow Labour MP Marsha de Cordova said: "His family made a fortune from their Caribbean plantations where tens of thousands died."

Drax, however, defended his ownership of the farm, saying he cannot be held responsible "for what happened many hundreds of years ago".

"I am keenly aware of the slave trade in the West Indies, and the role my very distant ancestor played in it is deeply, deeply regrettable," he said.

"But no one can be held responsible today for what happened many hundreds of years ago. This is a part of the nation's history, from which we must all learn."

Sir Hilary Beckles, chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, said: "Black life mattered only to make millionaires of English enslavers and the Drax family did it longer than any other elite family.

"When I drive through Drax Hall land I feel a sense of being in a massive killing field with unmarked cemeteries. Sugar and Black Death went hand in glove.

"It's no answer for Richard Drax to say it has nothing to do with him when he is the owner and inheritor. They should pay reparations."

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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