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A truly ethical foreign policy

Britain has no right to demand money back from Iceland. In fact, we should give them cash

By Mark Hannam   February 2010

In 1997 the late Robin Cook, then foreign secretary, talked of a foreign policy with “an ethical dimension.” Many were unclear what he meant, but we can be sure he did not mean bullying a small European neighbour into accepting years of economic austerity or international isolation.

The British government does not present its policy towards Iceland in this light. We are, it says, negotiating reasonable terms for the repayment of monies due. Iceland’s banks failed in 2008, and the Icelandic depositor protection scheme was insufficiently funded to repay British investors. Our government stepped in to cover the losses. Now…

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